View Master: Early Beginnings
Edwin Eugene Mayer, an Army veteran, began to work as a pharmacist in Portland, Oregon after his tenure as a soldier ended. Soon after, Mayor developed another interest and with the help of his family members, he opened a photo-finishing business in 1919. His entrepreneurial efforts paid off, as his photo-finishing business reached new heights.
Harold Graves, his partner, had a big hand in his business’s popularity. In 1926, Graves revolutionized the photo-finishing business when he introduced Mayor to album sets and photographic greeting cards and postcards. Soon, Mayor’s business became the largest producer of photographic greeting and post cards in the 1920s. This gave way to the invention of the View Master.
Plans to Invent the View Master Were Set in Motion
Mayor and Graves, together, dreamt of great things for their company, and the fulfillment of being the most popular photo-finishing business in the nation was not enough. Both of them visited William Gruber, an organ maker by profession and photographer by passion. They needed help to make their viewing device just as successful as their other products, and Gruber had the answer of how they could.
Earlier, Gruber had designed and manufactured a stereo imaging rig using a pair of Kodak Bantam Specials joined on a tripod. He inserted small pieces of Kodachrome color transparency film inside the reels. Along with the film, a special viewer to view the film was designed as well.
The View Master is made up of seven stereoscopic pictures. Viewers can view each film concurrently, resulting in a reproducing binocular depth perception. After all the legalities of the device were met, Mayer and Gruber unveiled the View Master in 1939 at the New York World’s Fair.
Quickly, it became available at stationary stores, gift shops, photography stores, and it even took over the postcard and greeting business at Mayor’s stores. Through the View Master, people could see pictures of the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, and later, Disney characters.
The Future of the View Master
The View Master will undergo a 3D makeover in 2015, an initiative taken on by Mattel. The company has joined forces with Google, and will begin to remodel the View Master to make it appealing for this generation. People will be able to slide their smart phone into the headset to scan the plastic cards to see a 3D picture form.
Were you able to recall what a View Master is? Are you excited to view 3D images using the View Master made for this century?