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Fascinating Camera History

Jack Rosland
On March 8, 2022

The Harold Warp Pioneer Village is home to some of the best historical items and is a great place to visit for a history lesson. The Pioneer Village is a hidden gem of Nebraska with hundreds of antiques and a great collection of historical cameras. Pioneer Village has cameras dating back to the mid to late 1800s with everything from Kodak to Polaroid.

The first picture of a man was taken back in 1839 by Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre from his Paris studio apartment. The image was blurry and all moving parts in the image were not captured. Due to the limitations of the camera the picture had to be taken over 15 minutes with the subject standing perfectly still. These earliest cameras were called daguerreotype cameras and the Pioneer Village has some of these incredible cameras on display. The next leap in technology was the flexible roll film. This flexible roll film was first patented by Geo. Eastman in 1888 and the camera to come to market was the “Kodak”. This first Kodak camera cost $25 and was loaded with 100 pictures. These 100 pictures would have to be sent back to the Eastman factory to be developed for another $10.

Soon after, the Polaroid emerged as the leader in photographic technology. According to Harold Warp in his book History of Man “after World War two, three outstanding inventions appeared on the market, the ballpoint pen, television, and one-minute photographs”. Before this point, all photos had to go through a complicated photo development process that would take time, money, and expertise. Polaroid sought to solve this issue by creating the land camera that would self-develop its pictures in a matter of minutes. This camera, named after its inventor Edwin Land, would develop the photo by passing the film through two rollers that would deposit reagent chemicals. Then the film was placed in a dark chamber in the back of the camera. The film would only have to sit in the back of the camera for one minute, and then you would get a fully developed photo. This camera was truly a breakthrough and was what made taking photographs accessible to the public. Pioneer Village has several of these original Polaroid cameras, and it is especially exciting that they have the Land Model 80 Camera. Nowadays the Polaroid company is just a shell of its past, but the Pioneer Village has preserved Polaroid history right in the middle of Nebraska. With so much fascinating history surrounding cameras, come down to Pioneer Village to see these truly revolutionary pieces of history.

References:
  • A History of Man’s Progress from 1830 to the present. Written and compiled by Harold Warp. Page(s) 135 – 137
  • Sister Clara’s Letters. Clara Warp Jensen and Harold Warp’s daily letters as compiled by Harold Warp. 1950-1962. Pages 364
Jack Rosland
A Student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, as part of Heather Nelson’s Service Learning Academy class.

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