Toronto. In the mid 1930s, the minicam revolution sparked the rush to miniaturization in photography. Post war, amateur photography’s fresh ideas were indoor photos and colour photos.
Indoor photos made flash guns and flash bulbs big sellers. Companies like Sylvania marketed flash bulbs galore for all serious and budding photographers. In May 5 of 1958, LIFE magazine came out with a six page advertising campaign (start p 85) to promote American photographic products for amateurs. The question for marketeers was, how to differentiate their product when basically all products in a given category were commodities and competitors forced narrow price and quality constraints.
Sylvania stuck with electronic/electric devices. Already a major maker of flash bulbs, they felt a smaller bulb with the same light intensity using a new material could differentiate them. And a Zirconium-filled bulb was the answer – same brightness in a quarter the volume! Wow! A smaller base was also needed. A cheap adapter made their bulbs work fine in the older flash guns with a standard bayonet base socket.
No need for a new camera or flash gun, just buy Sylvania bulbs et voilà! you became a professional photographer! Yeah, right!