typewriters and cameras? really?

LIFE magazine ad for a typewriter and camera

Toronto. When I was a kid, a popular saying was that “a picture is worth a thousand words“.  In the late 1960s, there were two big ideas in amateur cameras: Super 8 home movies, and 16mm sub-miniature cameras. By then colour photos were a growing portion of  films and prints. Film resolution had improved to the point that both super 8 for movies and 16mm rolls for stills were both practical and desirable.

To attract a wider clientele for its portable typewriters, Smith-Corona offered a huge discount on a camera when one bought their electric or manual model. This pp18-19 June 27, 1969 ad in LIFE is typical of the strategy manufacturers of the day used to gain market share: link your product to a non competitive but desirable product at a deep discount. In this case, buy a Smith-Corona typewriter for your student and get a cheap (low end) movie or still camera for a few dollars more.

Within two decades, the typewriter was dead or dying – replaced by the ubiquitous computer. In business, the word processing system replaced typing pools. At home, the computers and printers of the day replaced the personal typewriter. Such is history.

Thanks to my old friend George Dunbar for sharing this ad with me. George spotted it while researching photographic history.

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