Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The View-Master

The View-Master was first introduced at the 1939 World's Fair. Originally intended as a souvenir (and not a children's toy), View-Master was sold at stationary and photo stores as an alternative to postcards.

View-Master simulates depth perception. The simultaneous viewing of two images, one for each eye, causes a 3 dimensional effect.

The View-Master was invented by William Gruber, an organ-maker and photographer of Portland, Oregon. A chance meeting with Harold Graves, president of a postcard company named Sawyer's, made Gruber's invention a reality. View-Master soon became's Sawyer's main product line. At the height of it's popularity, View-Master sold 35mm cameras that would produce View-Master reels and projectors with which to view them.

In 1951, Sawyer's bought over Tru-Vue, the main competitor to View-Master. Tru-Vue owned the licensing rights to Walt Disney cartoon characters, and with these images, View-Master would begin it's slow evolution into a toy for children.

In 1966, Sawyer's was bought by General Aniline & Film, at which point fewer scenic reels were being produced, being replaced instead by cartoon and toy related reels. Over the years, View-Master became more and more popular with children. Today, View-Master is owned by Fisher-Price.

Three sets of reels were produced for Expo 67: General Tour, National Pavilions, and Night Scenes & La Ronde. I love these reels as they truly give a 3 dimensional sensation of Expo!

images: (top) viewmaster.co.uk
(center) metropolismag.com
(bottom) kipbrockman.com

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