The Role of View-Master in The Entertainment Industry

Img Source - Techcrunch

View Master reels dominated the entertainment industry for several decades, despite being considered toys today. The system came into existence back in 1939, which saw a rise in small high-quality photographic color images. Despite dominating the market as reliable image systems, they have turned to become children’s toys. With that, this guide provides insights regarding View-Master in the entertainment industry.

What is View-Master?

View-Master is a trademark title of a range of special-format stereoscopes and reels that were popular in the last few decades. Corresponding reels are considered thin cardboard disks with seven stereoscopic 3D sets of small transparent color film photographs. As mentioned, the system came into existence in 1939, a few years after Kodachrome color film emerged.

This period is when color images became practical, and View-Master gained popularity since then. However, technology inception and advancement have revolutionized imaging processes. Taking photos with digital cameras and smartphones has made stereoscopes unusable in recent times. Because of this, reels have become popular among children as they’re used as toys.

View-Master History

Photo services date back to 1919, when the first photo-finishing business was set up in downtown Portland, Oregon. It grew in scope through partnerships and relocated to a larger two-story building near Morrison Street. The firm produced photographic postcards together with album sets by 1926. Photographic greeting cards were later introduced and extended to View-Master viewers.

The business expanded and focused on View-Master, which led to the development of viewing stereo image devices. More so, a design included machine-mounted small Kodachrome color transparency film pieces into reels. Other special viewers were also created and produced with the intent of updating outdated stereoscopes.

View-Master’s reels became prominent because they included fourteen film transparencies available in seven pairs. This created a seven-stereoscopic image, viewed simultaneously through binocular depth perception simulation. Over the years, two businesses owned by Ed Mayer and Gruber partnered and created Sawyer’s but later derived the brand name View-Master.

The name “View-Master” was officially unveiled in 1939 at the New York World’s Fair. Its prime subject focused on Carlsbad Caverns and the Grand Canyon. The brand marketed as a photo-finishing, greeting card, and postcard company. Its retail sales evolved around View-Master viewer and reels, and later the Model A viewer came into existence in 1940.

Growth and Expansion

Between the 1940s and 1950s, View-Master saw significant growth and expansion, especially when the US military began using View-Master products. The company then relocated to downtown Portland and later purchased land in Washington County. Several projects occurred between this period, including acquisitions of several other businesses. New products emerged, and the company modernized most of its systems and products.

In the 1960s, Sawyer’s became a subsidiary of General Aniline & Film and began to dwell on less scenic and more child-friendly products. Mostly, it involved toys and cartoons, which dominated various television series. Between 1970 and 1997, “Talking View-Masters” versions with audio technology and reels emerged in three designs and sophistication. For instance, the early 1970s saw the View-Master Rear Screen projector’s introduction, while the Show Beam Project emerged in 1980.  And more products were seen within this period.

In 1998, View-Master came into scrutiny due to the toxic chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) that led to its closure in 2001. Fisher-Price division, a toy company, announced that the View-Master scenic reels production stopped in 2008, and they launched toy products. From 2015 to date, Mattel partnered with Google to design View-Master Virtual Reality Viewer, a new version of View-Master.

View-Master Reels Condition Today

The first reel product from View-Master was introduced over 70 years ago, and most of them are still available today. These reels are durable and fairly hardy as they were designed to last for several years. However, some faults exist that may make them inefficient. Among them include swollen reels of the two halves, in turn creating blips. 

Again, instances of viewing rings may occur when the reel is viewed multiple times. Such cases occur because of the metal internal mechanism on the inside. Once they rub upon the reel, they develop rings that affect the viewing. The best technique to mitigate such a problem is through using newer viewers, such as Model L, with plastic plates.

Other common damages may occur due to worn-out or malfunctioning viewers, leading to snagged and creased side windows. Older Model A and B also experience certain faults on their clamshell-type viewer versions. Cases of center hole damages are also prone to happen. Accumulated dust, mold growth, and failed glue holdings between the reel halves are common damages that may affect these traditional View-Master products.

View-Master Virtual Reality

Google and Mattel partnered to produce View-Master plastic view compatible with smartphones. The intent is to deliver virtual reality events with a three-dimensional image to transport users to unique destinations. Unlike the old-fashioned View-Master’s static image, this product includes 360-degree spins for a better view of the entire surroundings. 

The new View-master is an upgraded version of its ancestor reel with a 3D effect. Users can download the app and get the product online anytime. The best part is that it seems to maintain the View-Master product’s overall design of the reel.

View-Master for Children

View-Master seems to have become a popular toy product among children. Since its production was halted, top companies found this product an excellent choice for children to enjoy while maintaining its design for people to remember. More so, View-Master was among the few companies that revolutionized traditional image viewing experiences. Yet, that has since been overthrown by the fast-rising technological advancements.

Popular reel toy products include View-Master Discovery Kids Marine Life, Classic Viewer with Reels Discovery for Endangered Species, and Pack Destination. This means that View-Master’s legacy still lives despite being closed down in the early 2000s.

All in all, View-Master products dominated the industry for several years. The reel is among the most popular products that has also become ideal in today’s world after a few improvements. Because of this, the latest version has since also been produced for kids and integrated into virtual products to view the world differently.

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