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SALT LAKE CITY — When George Eastman started selling his first rollfilm camera, branded under the name “Kodak”, in 1888, it turned the world of still photography on its head. A year later, he released the “Kodak 1”, a sleeker update to the previous model.
For the first time, photography was accessible to just about anyone, anywhere. The camera was made up of a simple box. There was no viewfinder; users would just point the camera at their subject and hope for the best.
Each camera came loaded with enough film to take 100 2.5 inch circular stills. Once the film was used up, the entire camera was sent back to the Eastman factory, where the film was developed and the camera reloaded. The camera and developed shots were then sent back to the owner.
The National Media Museum in the United Kingdom recently featured dozens of images of some of the Kodak 1’s early shots via a Flickr feed, taken by a swath of amateur photographers. The photographs depict candid scenes from daily life from the end of the 19th century.
The quality of the sepia images are outstanding, given their age. One photograph shows a young woman sitting, bathed in light, reading a book. Another depicts young children playing near a wooden boat. The images give remarkable insight into what life would have been like during the dawn of the Gilded Age to the end of the 19th century.
In a nutshell: Instagram and Path have nothing on these 125-year-old images from the Kodak 1. Back then, vintage was just called ‘life’.