when home movies were analogue

Life May 11, 1953 ad for Kodak 8mm Movie gear

Toronto. Before fancy digital cameras and smartphones became common place, photography needed film. To address the blossoming interest in home movies (and to sell the special movie film) camera companies offered special movie cameras that accepted the tiny reels of 16mm film. 8mm film simply used half the reel. Once used, the reel was flipped and ready to shoot a second time.

During processing, the film was slit length wise and the two pieces cemented together to make a projector-ready 8mm film.  A version of film that was actually the correct width for projecting after processing as was the so called super-8 film with a larger frame size and fewer sprocket holes. Both 8mm versions and the super-8 version suffered from having a frame too small for decent resolution. The earliest version was actually an 8mm film requiring no slitting for projection.

During the great depression, Eastman marketed the first 8mm film to allow people to take movies a lower cost the the earlier 16mm version. 35mm had long been the purview of well heeled commercial movie studios. In 1953, Kodak advertised its economical full colour 8mm film system. This is an ad from the May 11, 1953 LIFE magazine (p 69) and is typical of the advertisements of that era.

Thanks once again to member George Dunbar who sourced this wonderful old advertisement and sent a note around via email. Ironically, we would not have been that interested when the PHSC was formed in 1974 since super-8 was still around at the time and no one even thought smartphones would become a reality. In fact “picture phones” of the period were clunky experimental devices demonstrated by AT&T and Bell Labs. A  short video mentions the “first” commercial radio station (KDKA in Pittsburg) in 1920 but forgets to mention Montreal’s XWA, later CFCF, licensed radio which began a year earlier in 1919 (when I was living in Montreal I often listened to CFCF).

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