image by Steve Harwood (Image rights)
The Fotron was a plastic camera from the early 1960s made in Glendale, California by a company called Traid Corporation. It had some unusual features for the time, with electronic flash, power winding and rechargeable batteries, and a peculiar button-controlled exposure system - making it heavy and bulky (about 10 inches long). The film was 828, pre-packaged into proprietary "snap-in" cartridges, that had to be sent back to the vendor for processing and reloading. Each cartridge held only ten 1x1-inch frames.
In operation, the user selected "indoor" or "outdoor" exposure, which enabled the flash, then chose one of the distance buttons, which set the focus and fired the shutter and flash.
There were three versions, labelled, oddly, "Fotron", "Fotron III" and "Fotron" - in that order; the III had only two focus buttons, where the others had three.
| Fotron III with case|
image by Eric Bjerke (Image rights)
The camera batteries had to be charged for 18 hours to shoot just one 10-exposure cartridge, and 72 hours for more than one!
It was sold door-to-door at very high prices - from $150 upwards. A number of purchasers have taken out a class action against Traid Corporation, having paid $491.60, alleging that the true value was closer to $40