Kodak Brownie Camera

Photo of Kodak Brownie Camera

If you asked people in the 1950s, 1970s, or even 1990s what life would be like in the year 2000, a few probably would have had some pretty interesting answers for you. Futuristic clothing, spaceship-like cars, and advanced robotic systems to handle even the most ordinary daily tasks may have been among the responses. But now that we are well into the 21st century, we take a moment to reflect on an object that helped to usher in the beginning of a previous century.

The Kodak "Brownie" camera made its debut at the turn of the twentieth century and sold for one dollar. One hundred thousand of them were purchased during the first year alone. The Brownie helped to put photography into the hands of amateurs and allowed the middle class to take their own "snapshots" as well.

Eastman Kodak introduced the new Brownie dollar box camera in 1900; the release was supported by a major advertising campaign. The name "Brownie" was chosen primarily because of the popularity of a children's book of cartoons of the same name, and partly because the camera was initially manufactured for Eastman by Frank Brownell of Rochester, New York.