Kodak No. 1

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The Kodak No. 1
US Patent No. 388,850 (page 1) issued to George Eastman on September 4, 1888
The Roll Holder Mechanism, scientific american 1888
Front section, Scientific American 1888

The Kodak no. 1 by George Eastman is a legendenumwobener camera from the history of photography . It is the direct successor to the original Kodak , which was first introduced in 1888, but whose production was discontinued in 1889. The Kodak No. 1 was produced from 1889 to 1895. The main purpose of the Kodak No. 1 was to market Eastman's roll film , which Eastman was not the first to patent and over which a legal battle with Reverend Hannibal Goodwin lasted until 1898, which Eastman lost.

Original Kodak

The Kodak No. 1 differs only slightly from its predecessor, the Kodak ( The Kodak , also Original Kodak ). A simpler sectors shutter (sector shutter) now replaces in production to expensive cylinder lock (barrel shutter). As with the successor models, the release button is now a little lower on the side. Seen from the front, the lens - once the felt lens cover has been removed - is now constantly visible and the two screws on the front panel disappear. The cord of the shutter lift on the top moves a little towards the center of the box. The film advance indicator (small viewing window) and the film advance knob stay in the same place. It was only with the introduction of Kodak No. 2 in 1889, now with a round reflex viewfinder, fixed focus lens , aperture setting and images one inch larger, that the model was called Kodak No. 1 . Kodak itself calls the Original Kodak and the Kodak No. 1 also No 1 Kodak camera (barrel shutter) and No 1 Kodak camera (sector shutter) .

Camera body

The Kodak no. 1 was one of the camera designer Frank A. Brownell developed for Eastman amateur camera in Box construction that the shooting should significantly simplify. It consisted of a wooden case covered with smooth leather and had the compact dimensions of 6½ × 3¼ × 3¾ inches (L × W × H, 16.5 × 8.3 × 9.6 cm) and a weight of well 900 grams. The price was - by the standards of the time - quite expensive 25 dollars or in Germany 120 marks.

The Kodak No. 1 - like many contemporary detective cameras - lacked a viewfinder . However, there were V-shaped bearing lines on the surface. She supplied round negatives with a diameter of 65 millimeters (2½ inch) and used the roll holder developed by Georg Walker for roll film, on which one hundred images could be recorded. The shortest possible exposure time was 125  second and was controlled by a sector shutter .

The camera housing is derived from the so-called student apparatus and secret cameras that were widespread at the end of the 19th century , which were equipped with simple landscape lenses, but in contrast to the Kodak , used glass plates as recording material and were therefore comparatively difficult to operate. However, what all these camera designs of the late 19th century had in common was that they were mobile , i. H. were portable. The plate cameras of this time, on the other hand, always required a tripod , were difficult to transport and by no means permanently ready to take pictures like a typical box camera.


A lens from Bausch & Lomb (Rochester) with a focal length of 75 mm (which is even slightly in the telephoto range with an image diameter of 65 mm) and a light intensity of 1: 9 (aperture f / 9, typical for box cameras) was permanently installed in the box ).

Roll film

The Kodak no. 1 initially used the so-called stripping film with paper as substrate material for the film layer (since 1884), which proved however in the further processing to be impractical because the coating peeled off to the paper substrate and transferred to a glass plate had.

Contrary to the official Kodak historiography, the roll film with paper as the substrate was not an invention of George Eastman; the roll cassette with negative paper was invented by Leon Warnerke in London, who had designed a functional camera with roll film based on collodion as early as 1875 and, from 1881, with gelatine emulsion.

Eastman therefore replaced the paper in the successor models from 1889 ( Kodak 4 , Kodak Junior 3 etc.) with a transparent film on a celluloid base , which he patented as American Film . The American Film had Henry M. Reichenbach developed for Eastman and applied for a patent on 9 April 1889th

However, Hannibal Goodwin had patented the celluloid roll film with a bromide-silver gelatine layer as early as 1887 ; the ensuing litigation dragged on until the Kodak patent was extinguished in 1898. By then, however, Eastman had already achieved a dominant position in the emerging photo industry and opened up a new mass market .

The celluloid-based photo roll film not only replaced the photo plate, but also formed the basis for the motion picture film , which Edison perforated on both sides and thus created the modern photographic motion picture carrier .

Development service

Advertisement 1889, "You press the button, we do the rest"

A special feature of the Kodak No. 1 was the film development service; the catchy advertising slogan for the camera was: “You press the button, we do the rest” (Eng. “You press the button, we do the rest”).

Eastman offered a $ 10 development service that included the camera and the exposed film through a dealer. After processing in the laboratory of the Eastman Company in Rochester , the developed negatives were returned with prints, and a new film had already been inserted into the camera by the laboratory. In the USA this took about four weeks, in Europe much longer. The paper images were not enlarged, but their dimensions corresponded to the negative size.

Operating concept

1. Cock the shutter, 2. Fast forward the film, 3. Take a picture. Advert 1888/92

Eastman had designed the Kodak as "a photographic notebook" ; Operation therefore had to be as quick, simple and uncomplicated as possible. The Kodak therefore had only a few operating elements, but also only a few control or intervention options for the photographer.

The absence of a viewfinder made it difficult to compose the image and to control the image detail, which was particularly complained of by professional photographers who were used to being able to view the image in full size on the focusing screen of their tripod camera . You simply pointed the Kodak at the subject and triggered; This firing from the hip without careful targets were designated based on the hunter language as a snapshot (Engl. snapshot ), hence the Kodak counts - like all the other box cameras - to the point-and-shoot cameras.

On the other hand, this loss of image control enabled a constant readiness to take pictures, which distinguishes cameras of this design from all "serious" models.

“In this way, photography is made accessible to everyone who wants to capture a picture of what they see. Such a photographic notebook contains permanent records of things that are only seen once in a lifetime, and gives the happy owner the opportunity to revisit scenes by the glow of the fireplace at home that would otherwise fade and get lost in memory ” (George Eastman: The Kodak Manual , quoted in Beaumont Newhall: History of Photography , p. 134).

History and reception

From the very first advertising period: Advert, Germany, 1888

According to Kodak, the Kodak No. 1 was the very first roll film camera , it marked the beginning of amateur photography and it was cheap.

However, these legends are almost invariably false, as the photo historian Timm Starl has shown . The Kodak No. 1 was not developed by Eastman personally, nor did it establish amateur photography, nor was it the first roll film camera - and it was also not cheap compared to other photographic products from the end of the 19th century: The Kodak Story “ is wrong in the essential parts, important persons and facts are not mentioned, others are wrongly emphasized ” (Starl 1995: 45).

The Kodak was developed by Frank A. Brownell for Eastman; the roll cassette with negative paper was invented by Leon Warnerke in London, who had designed a functional camera with roll film based on collodion as early as 1875 and from 1881 with gelatine emulsion; The early amateur photography emerged parallel to the development of photography around 1840, but above all with the development of handheld cameras (from the 1870s, with the development of high- speed lenses, e.g. Voigtlander's Euryscop from 1878 and Steinheil's Antiplanat from 1881) and with the invention from Maddox 's Gelatin Drying Plate (1871). The opposite pole to amateur photography - professional photography - also differentiated itself from 1840 onwards: Both forms of use developed in the first years of photography.

The camera was also not very successful commercially, the number of the original Kodak produced was over 5,200, the Kodak No. 1 over 10,000 and the Kodak No. 2 over 19,000 models. Various Kodak variants followed the Kodak No. 1 ; the first really successful Kodak camera was the Brownie No. 2 from 1901 ( recording format 6x9 cm ), a typical early box camera.

One of the main reasons for the failure of the Kodak No. 1 was probably the comparatively high price; a comparable camera of that time, Dr. R. Krügener's pocket book camera from Haake & Albers cost only around half at 60 marks; Adding 100 drying plates cost five marks, and setting up a suitable photo laboratory cost another 60 marks.

The Kodak advertising slogan You press the button, we do the rest , on the other hand, became known and successful . Harper's Magazine wrote of him in 1891:

“You can hear him on the street, on the train, in the theater, actually everywhere where men and women come together. The humorous magazines have paraphrased it, and it is repeatedly used as a moral punch line or to embellish a story "

- Harper's Magazine Advertiser, June 1891 : Beaumont Newhall: History of Photography , p. 133

The Kodak was important neither because of its construction, nor because of the initially far too cumbersome and time-consuming processing method of the roll films, but rather because of the aggressive marketing by the Eastman Company , which sells its own roll films and cameras by ignoring competing patents via a specially built distribution network depressed the market.

Well-known users

The most famous users of the Kodak No. 1 included u. a. the writers Émile Zola , August Strindberg , Karel Čapek and George Bernard Shaw, and the painters Edgar Degas , Pierre Bonnard and Fernand Khnopff .

Comparable camera models

Ad for the Kodak Brownie No. 0, around 1914

German manufacturers took up the idea of ​​an inexpensive and compact box camera for the mass market in the 1920s; Manufacturers such as ICA , Optische Anstalt Goerz and ESPI as well as Zeiss Ikon and Agfa brought a flood of box-shaped cameras with simple optics onto the market. Kodak also introduced new brownies , which were nice to look at, but had little success.

On the other hand, Agfa's so-called price box from 1932, which was offered for four Reichsmarks and - thanks to accompanying advertising measures - proved to be an overwhelming success: within a few months, around 900,000 cameras were sold - and that in the context of the global economic crisis ; For comparison: Only 27,000 pieces of the Kodak Brownie 620 were made . The competition, especially Balda , Eho and later also Beier and Certo , followed suit with inexpensive models and in 1932 sold more than 200,000 more boxing cameras.

Other early compact camera designs:

See also


  • Instantaneous Photography , Scientific American, September 15, 1888, pp. 159 and 164
  • Beaumont Newhall: The Photographic Inventions of George Eastman , The Journal of Photographic Science, 3, 1955, pp. 33-40
  • Donald C. Ryon: Development of the No.1 Kodak Camera , The Photographic Historical Society Symposium, 19. – 20. September, Rochester, New York, 1970, pp. 19-31
  • Reese V. Jenkins: Technology and the Market: George Eastman and the Origins of Mass Amateur Photography , Technology and Culture, Vol. 16, No. 1, Jan 1975, pp. 1-19
  • Timm Starl: Digression: The Kodak Legend . In: ders .: Clippers. The visual history of private photography in Germany and Austria from 1880 to 1980 , Koehler & Amelang, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-7338-0200-4
  • Beaumont Newhall: History of Photography , Schirmer / Mosel, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-88814-319-5
  • Hans-Dieter Götz: Box cameras made in Germany. How the Germans learned to take photos, Vfv, Gilching 2002, ISBN 3-88955-131-9
  • Brian Walter Coe: Kodak: the cameras from 1888 to today , from the English by Rolf and Christa Wagner, Callwey, Munich 1990, ISBN 3-7667-0940-2

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