Reading USA Today this morning I saw an article ( http://usat.ly/10jOgoZ ) on the 50th birthday of the Kodak Instamatic camera. I imagine every photographer remembers their first camera. This one was mine.
It cost 16 dollar, or as the article said, about 120 in today’s dollars. My memory has proved a bit faulty. I remember getting it for my 10th birthday and I believed it came out that year. It actually came out two years before and was a game changer for Kodak. Back then Kodak was like Apple today, making innovative products everyone wanted. And everyone wanted this camera. It was the first to package the film into a drop-in cartridge, the 126, and the first to have a ‘built-in’ flash. They sold millions in that first year alone. It was like the precursor of the iPhone or iPod, a product that made everything that came before seem old and dated.
My first memory of using it was at the zoo in Fort Worth. That might have even been a birthday trip. With that great zoo and all the animals around me I remember shooting goldfish in a tiny pond outside one of the stone animal buildings. Maybe I chose them because I could get so close. My two brothers have both told me they remember the camera going to the beach in Southern California on vacations, even using it themselves. I do remember shaking sand out of it a few times. That little camera must have been nearly indestructible. I still have it and mechanically it still works just fine. Now getting the flash bulbs or the 126 cartridge might be problematic.
I’m not sure I can say definitely that this camera started me on my photographic journey but if not it sure was a great little box of inspiration. Thank you Mom and Dad for the best birthday gift. You know me so well.