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The photo-booth, the familiar coin-operated device for producing simple portrait photographs for passports etc., was invented in 1923, by Anatol Marco Josepho, a Latvian living in New York.[1] It was patented in several countries, and Josepho and his company Photomaton, Inc. took out several patents for improvements to elements of the machine.[2][3] This was not the first automated camera, but the first to be commercially so successful.

The essentials of the device familiar today are set out in the patent:[1]

This invention relates to a photographic apparatus designed to take a series of photographs showing the sitter in different positions and registering expressions and emotions displayed by him while the exposures are being made.

The general object of the invention is to provide means whereby upon the depositing of a coin in the apparatus, a series of pictures will be taken of a person, in rapid succession, upon a strip of sensitized material and the developed strip delivered after a short interval of time without effort on the part of the sitter.

Another object of the invention is to provide electrical means for carrying out the various operations, the coin closing a switch to begin the initial operation.

A still further object of the invention is to provide means of actuating the shutter of the apparatus by the strip feeding means so that the strip will be stationary when the shutter is open.

Another object of the invention is to provide means for illuminating the sitter by a lamp to which current is supplied just after a coin had been deposited in the apparatus.


  1. 1.0 1.1 US Patent 1,671,644, Automatic camera for taking timed sequences of portraits, filed September 1923 and granted May 1928 to Anatol Josepho; at Espacenet, the patent search facility of the European Patent Office.
  2. US Patent 1,658,167, Electric coin-control mechanism, filed March 1925 and granted February 1928 to Anatol Josepho; at Espacenet.
  3. US Patent 1,656,522, Developing apparatus for photographic film strips, filed March 1925 and granted January 1928 to Anatol Josepho; at Espacenet.