THE BROWNIE CAMERA
Camera culture changed forever with the arrival of the Kodak Brownie, the first camera that claimed anyone could be a photographer.
Before 1900, photography was an elaborate and expensive practice carried out by professionals and a few intrepid amateurs. The Eastman Kodak Company turned that notion on its head with the Kodak Brownie camera.
The basic fixed-lens cardboard camera cost only $1, and was operated with the push of a single button. With the Brownie, anyone could take as many photographs as they pleased of anything that caught their eye. The Brownie craze popularized the use of the term “snapshot,” capturing the new attitude toward photography as casual, fun, and improvisational.
Unlike earlier cameras that were advertised only in trade publications, ads for the Brownie appeared in home goods catalogs and popular magazines. Above is a magazine advertisement from 1900 featuring the very first Brownie camera.
- Title : Eastman Kodak’s Brownie Camera
- Author : Kodak Company / Youth’s Companion Magazine
- Credits : Courtesy of the Library of Congress, American Memory, and the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections
- Formats : Advertisement