Sawyer's

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Originally a manufacturer of picture postcards, Sawyer's Inc. (of Portland, Oregon, USA) is best known as the original manufacturer of the View-Master line of products. The View-Master or Sawyer's names appeared on a modest number of cameras, as well.

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History

The View-Master system was invented in 1939 by William Gruber as a way to update the Holmes stereoscopic viewer. The Holmes stereoscope was limited to one card at a time, and only partially blocked the user's peripheral vision. The View-Master stereoscope used disk-shaped "reels" containing seven stereo pairs each, and its individual eyepieces immersed the viewer into the scene more fully than previous stereoscopes. The molded plastic (originally bakelite) viewer evolved through several styles over the decades it has been produced.

The View-Master premiered at the 1939 World's Fair and was an instant success, partially due to its use of Kodachrome slide film for vivid color images.

Its popularity eventually lead to the creation of the View-Master Personal camera in 1952, made by Stereocraft Engineering Company. Selling for $149, anybody could make their own personal reels to be viewed on any View-Master stereoscope.

Sawyer's Europe commissioned the manufacturer of Regula cameras, King, to produce the unsual View-Master Stereo Color Camera.

In 1966, Sawyer's was bought by the General Aniline and Film (GAF) Corporation. GAF changed many of the practices of View-Master. These include:

  • A shift in focus from photographic subjects, such as scenics, to children's subjects, such as TV and movies.
  • E-6 slide film replaced the Kodachrome, thus many reels of the 1970s now have faded colors, unlike the Kodachrome reels.

Today, View-Master is owned by Hasbro, under the Fisher-Price label.

Other Products

Other film and camera products that have carried the Sawyer's and/or View-Master name include:

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