-- The Simplex B with UR-Leica replica
While the Leica A of 1925 was the first commercially successful 35mm still camera, many 35mm cameras proceeded it -- not so successfully. For the purposes of this article, 35mm film is defined as the 35mm double perforated movie film invented and patented by Edison in 1909. What was the first 35mm still camera? The answer depends upon how its defined: by prototype? by patents? or first commercial sale to the public? Its a bit confused even as to which 35mm still camera was actually first sold to the public.
Prototypes and patents aside, the first 35mm still camera sold to the public is most often claimed to be either the French made Homeos stereo camera of 1913, the American Tourist Multiple of 1914, or the American Multi-Exposure Simplex of 1914. While the Homeos was patented in 1913, it was not produced commercially until 1921 per a search of the French national library! While the American made Tourist Multiple was patented in 1913 and displaced in 1913 exhibitions, per its inventor, the Tourist Multiple was not actually sold until a few months before the start of WWI in late July 1914.
Kalton C. Lahue and Joseph A Bailey in "Glass, Brass & Chrome The American 35mm Miniature Camera" correctly recognized the Multiple-Exposure Simplex as the first commercially sold 35mm still camera. The Simplex was advertised for sale as early as February 1914. Less than 50 Simplex cameras appear to be produced between 1914 to 1918 in four different models: the original Simplex, the Simplex Special, the economy Simplex Model B and the Simplex Model III. The standard format Model B appears to be the rarest Simplex. Jason Schneider in his excellent Simplex article was not even sure the Model B really existed.
You will find the rest of the article and more pics HERE