Since the late 1940s, people have been intrigued with small, inexpensive cameras. The ability to take snapshots of everyday life ended the era when photography studios and newspaper photojournalists were the only ones with cameras. With the invention of the disposable camera, photography became even more accessible to common people, not simply those who could afford expensive cameras.
According to the encyclopedia section of the Seattle-based reference website AbsoluteAstronomy.com, the first single-use film camera without a film transport mechanism was created by A.D. Weir, a mechanical engineer, in 1949. The camera was called the Photo-Pac and retailed for $1.29.
The cardboard Photo-Pac camera was larger than the compact palm-sized disposable cameras made popular by Kodak and Fuji in the mid-1980s. Similar to the size of a brick, the Photo-Pac disposable film camera was pre-loaded with enough film to expose eight frames. Once used, the entire camera was mailed for processing. Prints and negatives would then be returned to the customer by mail.
Kodak developed The Fling camera in the 1980s. This disposable camera used 110 size film. Later, the FunSaver line was introduced with the popular 35mm size film. During that same time period, Fuji developed the QuickSnap line of disposable cameras, which also used 35mm film.
The disposable camera option made photography more readily available for the masses. The portability and low cost camera option allowed the industry to grow and expand the features of disposable cameras.
Simple point and shoot operation was the key selling point for the first disposable cameras. A fixed focal length lens, and hands free focusing, made the portable lightweight camera enticing. Later developments such as built-in flashes, waterproof housings and the ability to zoom were added. In the early 2000s, disposable digital cameras were introduced. By paying a fee up front when purchasing the camera, the camera user could return the camera to specially designated photo labs to receive their final images on a CD.
History of Disposable Cameras
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