Original Kodak Camera, Serial No. 540

Original Kodak Camera, Serial No. 540

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.
Currently not on view
Object Name
camera, box
Date made
Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company
Place Made
United States: New York, Rochester
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
leather (overall material)
metal (overall material)
glass (overall material)
overall: 95 mm x 83 mm x 165 mm; 3 3/4 in x 3 1/4 in x 6 1/2 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Mary I. Stroud
See more items in
Work and Industry: Photographic History
National Treasures exhibit
Artifact Walls exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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Thank you for these information, it helps me to do my project. I'm studying at KFUPM.
Once source I came across said the original camera had a 57mm f/9 Rapid Rectilinear wide angle lens.
According to multiple inflation calculators, the cost of this camera in 1888 has the equivalent buying power as $692.22 in 2017. Just for perspective.
I love this information! I hope that you do not mind me using this in a important project! This information is awesome! Thank you guys!
Has anyone ever determined the f stop, shutter speed and the film speed of the Kodak 1 box camera? The image quality seems quite good, so I would expect that the lens was in the range of f11. The granularity of photos from the camera appear to support a slow ASA, while the lack of movement indicates a decent shutter speed. Thanks

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