Original Kodak Camera, Serial No. 540

Description
This Original Kodak camera, introduced by George Eastman, placed the power of photography in the hands of anyone who could press a button. Unlike earlier cameras that used a glass-plate negative for each exposure, the Kodak came preloaded with a 100-exposure roll of flexible film. After finishing the roll, the consumer mailed the camera back to the factory to have the prints made. In capturing everyday moments and memories, the Kodak's distinctive circular snapshots defined a new style of photography--informal, personal, and fun.
George Eastman invented flexible roll film and in 1888 introduced the Kodak camera shown to use this film. It took 100-exposure rolls of film that gave circular images 2 5/8" in diameter. In 1888 the original Kodak sold for $25 loaded with a roll of film and included a leather carrying case.
The Original Kodak was fitted with a rotating barrel shutter unique to this model. The shutter was set by pulling up a string on top of the camera and operated by pushing a button on the side of the camera. After taking a photograph, a key on top of the camera was used to wind the film onto the next frame. There is no viewfinder on the camera; instead two V shaped lines on the top of the camera leather are intended to aid aiming the camera at the subject. The barrel shutter proved to be expensive to manufacture and unreliable in operation. The following year the shutter was replaced by a simpler sector shutter in the No 1 Kodak.
After 100 pictures had been taken on the film strip, the camera could be returned to the Kodak factory for developing and printing at a cost of $10. The camera, loaded with a fresh roll of film was returned with the negatives and mounted prints. Kodak advertisements from 1888 also state that any amateur could "finish his own pictures" and spare rolls of film were sold for $2.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
camera, box
Date made
1888
maker
Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
leather (overall material)
metal (overall material)
glass (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 95 mm x 83 mm x 165 mm; 3 3/4 in x 3 1/4 in x 6 1/2 in
Place Made
United States: New York, Rochester
ID Number
PG*0169
catalog number
169
accession number
23598
subject
Photography
National Treasures exhibit
Artifact Walls exhibit
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
National Treasures exhibit
Artifact Walls exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Publication title
Treasures of American History online exhibition
Publication author
National Museum of American History
Publication URL
http://americanhistory.si.edu/treasures

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