Popularised by George Eastman, flexible film revolutionised and democratised photography in 1888 from the the cumbersome and technically complex plate processes. In 1900 the first version of the Brownie camera sold 100,000 and this portable and economical camera and spool film meant photography was available to the masses. The snapshot age was here.
Designed by Frank Brownell, he named the camera after the household spirit in Scottish folklore – brownies or broonies (Scots) – these mischievous spirits are said to come out at night while the owners of the house are asleep and perform various chores. Making images was no longer the photographers chore.
This patent for the Brownie camera shows how the new spool film would be used.
In October 1901 the Brownie No.2 camera was released using a new size of film – 120. (The first version of the Brownie had used a similar but different spool – 117.)
Still widely used today 120 is the only medium format film to survive in the digital age – hopefully it will still be here in another 120 years time!
Share your favourite 120 photo with us in the comments.