good money after bad

Fall 1965 American Ad for Agfa-Gevaert deal

Toronto. This is what we said when someone spent added money on a lost cause. Sometimes a better way didn’t gain traction in the marketplace and fell in the dustbin of history. This happened to Agfa-Gevaert’s rapid film system. When introduced as a competitor to Kodak’s 126  Instamatic film pack Kodapak, the rapid 35mm system was technically superior. It had a smaller cassette, no reel, and used a camera’s film plate to ensure the film was flat to the film plane.

BUT Kodak was a preeminent force in photography at the time. Both systems demanded new cameras, and were not compatible with then current models. The powerful Kodak brand was placed on many low end Instamatic cameras and the corporation slowly won over the market place.

As shown on page 20 in the September 17, 1965 ad from LIFE magazine, Agfa tossed another free 30,000 rapid cameras into the mix (limited to selected American states). The camera model it chose competed directly with the Instamatic. As a rough guess the $14.95 retail price would mean a factory cost of about $3.00 per camera or some $90,000 or more plus S&H, marketing, etc. No small sum in 1965.

It seemed nearly every home had an Instamatic. Hardly anyone had a rapid film camera. … In less than a decade the rapid system disappeared. My thanks once again to good friend George Dunbar for his diligent investigation of this tidbit of long forgotten (collectors excepted) photographic history.

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