The Kodak Instamatic was a brand of instamatic cameras designed by Kodak and introduced to the market in 1963. The term instamatic refers to the film loading process, which is quite simply to insert the film cartridge into the camera and it is ready to shoot. Even amateur photographers found it very easy to load and unload conventional film in this “instant” manner.
Kodak released a series of inexpensive 126 and 110 cameras that were so easy to load and even easier to use. The Kodak Instamatic camera was quite literally an instant success and brought us a whole generation of low cost photography. Needless to say, several imitators soon began to flood the market. With all the popularity these cameras generated, the instamatic name is still used to describe any inexpensive point and shoot Kodak camera on the market.
Kodak’s instamatic camera line was sold from 1963 all the way up unto 1988 with over 5 million cameras being produced and sold in the first 7 years of the product being launched. Talk about popular!
The first instamatic camera from Kodak was the Hawkeye, it reigned supreme from the time of its launch in 1963 until 1967. The camera made use of the 126 film, a simple cartridge that was so easy to load even a child could do it. The film had a frame size of 1 x 1 inches. For the next 13 years or so many variations of the Hawkeye were introduced into the market.
Following on from the success of the Hawkeye instamatic camera, Kodak launched a series of instamatics 100, 300 and 400, which were then followed by the 150, 500 and 800 among others. These cameras did not carry the Hawkeye name. Kodak also introduced the instamatic S-10 and S-20 models for which production began in 1967. Another range introduced by Kodak was the instamatic single lens, reflex camera followed by a chrome body instamatic. Model names continued to change as Kodak released new models each year, but the concept was still the same.
Kodak’s instamatic camera first began retailing at under $10 and with each new release the price obviously changed. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that the Kodak name was founded on the success of the instamatic camera with its 126 film cartridge. Kodak alone sold a staggering sixty million or more of these cameras in approximately less than two decades.
Kodak was never content to rest on its laurels and continued improving the instamatic camera. For example, the 104 instamatic had a connector for the flashcube which was new and was made to replace the single flashbulb holder of the 100 instamatic. When ready for exposure the flashcube would turn 90 degrees, bringing the next flash bulb into position. The cube was also detachable, which was yet another new innovation.
Kodak ended its success story of the instamatic camera with the X-15F in 1988. Newer technology was sweeping through the camera industry, unleashing some powerful cameras including the 35mm camera. It was the end of an era that is truly worth paying tribute to.