When: 1948 Why: first commercially available instant picture camera.
This is the first Polaroid model, and an instant hit on the market. Camera was easy to use, black/white (actually brown/white) photo was ready in one minute, almost automatic (only 8 settings of shutter/aperture) usage. It's not the first instant camera, by no means, but it's the first successful and mass-produced camera. You can find a remarkable description of the camera at The Land List web-site.
The first instant photo camera was actually the "Patent Camera Box" (1857) by Bolles & Smith, also American company. It was a wooden-box, wet plates camera, but it was not very successful on the market.
When: 1913 Why: Officially first commercially produced 35mm film camera.
It did not gain a lot of popularity like "Leica I", but New Ideas Manufacturing (part of a Herbert & Huesgen, American company) produced almost 1000 cameras. And... Hold your breath: it was capable of taking 750 exposures per one film load. Body looked like a movie camera.
Several months later, the first 35mm stereo camera was manufactured by Jules Richard (France). It was "Homeos" which will be covered in one of the next posts.
When: 1925 Why: First mass-produced camera which popularized 35mm format.
There were several attempts to introduce 35mm format (which was used in movie cameras) to the still cameras market, but they all remained in shadow until "Leica I" made it's way out of Ernst Leitz company. Oskar Barnack, camera designer, created a first prototype in 1914. It was called "Ur Leica" and was not sold on the market. Second prototype was "Leica 0-Series", but it took more than 10 years to start a commercial production of these cameras. Early models had Anastigmat f3.5/50mm lens. You may find other varieties of Leica I A on camerapedia. As far as why this camera became so popular, there are several theories:
The lens quality was outstanding. Leitz company was already well-known in optical and microscopes industry;
Size of the camera was really small comparing to other quality cameras;
Mechanics precision was really good. You can still use some of these early Leicas;
Some historians suggest a high price of this camera as a "prestige" attraction.
Out of all previous 35mm cameras, there was only one commercially produced model: Tourist Multiple by Herbert & Huesgen. I'll cover it in the next post.
What I'll try to create here is a list of cameras with revolutional changes or very importand improvements since the beginning of photographic history. I will be adding cameras from time to time, not trying to create this list ASAP. Yes, this list can be considered as a wish list :)