Kodak Instamatic: a brief history of the best-selling camera that shot the swinging sixties

Group portrait of children taking photographs using Kodak Instamatic cameras, Cincinnati, OH, 1970. (Photo by Daniel J. Ransohoff/Cincinnati Museum Center/Getty Images)
Children taking photographs using Kodak Instamatic cameras, Cincinnati, USA, 1970 (Image credit: Getty Images)

If you were born in the Sixties or grew up in that decade, there’s a very good chance that the key milestones in your early life were documented by an Instamatic camera… most likely badged Kodak, but possibly also from Hanimex, Halina, Ricoh, Agfa and Minolta among quite a few others.

Kodak made its name – and, for many decades, its millions – devising cameras to bring photography to the masses. It was the lifelong obsession of the company’s founder, George Eastman, and it all began in 1888 with the original ‘Kodak’ box camera. This was more a complete system than just a camera, and the idea was that users never had to handle the film. 

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Paul Burrows

Paul has been writing about cameras, photography and photographers for 40 years. He joined Australian Camera as an editorial assistant in 1982, subsequently becoming the magazine’s technical editor, and has been editor since 1998. He is also the editor of sister publication ProPhoto, a position he has held since 1989. In 2011, Paul was made an Honorary Fellow of the Institute Of Australian Photography (AIPP) in recognition of his long-term contribution to the Australian photo industry. Outside of his magazine work, he is the editor of the Contemporary Photographers: Australia series of monographs which document the lives of Australia’s most important photographers.