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"DHE BIRTH OF SX-70" RECOLLECTIONS OF ONE DESIGN ENGINEER WPLane 9/18/80 In the beginning there was a black block of wood. Dr. Land had in his left hand a black, rectangular block of wood. It was about 7 inches long, about 4 inches wide and about 1 inch in thick- ness. He unbuttoned his suit jacket and deftly slipped the wooden block into his right inside jacket pocket and then re-buttoned the coat. The block disappeared into the jacket not to be seen until removed from its place of hiding to spring into action as the SX-70 camera. That small, smooth, black block of wood was the actual physical space representation of Dr. Land's greatest dream. A dream where the photographer merely had to decide what he wanted to capture on film by a simple focusing action and then deliver a finished, brilliant photograph by the mere touch of a button. Recent evolution of course has seen the perfection of this dream with the advent of the SX-70 Sonar Camera. The photographer now is free to aim and frame with no worry except to press the button when the exact image desired is in view. One single press of the button and it is true One Step Photography. That, however, is jump- ing ahead of the story too quickly. The block of wood that Dr. Land presented to his Engineering Department was an exciting challenge and adventure into technologies that yet remained to be invented. Unlike any other camera in the world that normally was designed from the inside out, this one was to be designed from the outside in. The first form that this camera took was along conventional lines. It was a rangefinder model and the main body used die cast construction prevalent in 35 millimeter cameras of the day. The cross sections of material thickness for the covers were very thin by industry standards but that didn't deter the engineering design group from pushing the state of die casting art. A working model of our "dream camera", code name PT-3, was now in our hands. Almost immediately, a major flaw was apparent in the rangefinder system. The rangefinder was conventional in its design but with one major difference. It received its direction from a complex series of Linkages that travelled from the focus wheel up to the rangefinder. It seemed impossible to solve but Dr. Land had the ultimate answer. On a bright, early morning in 1970, Dr. Land made a visit to his design nerve center high in a security floor in Technology Center. He went directly to the drafting area and there for a privileged few began recounting an actual dream he had the previous night. He spoke of a reflex design camera that would fit into the space of his original wooden block. There was disbelief among those standing there because a reflex design camera for the film size we had before us would require a pentaprism weighing over 5 pounds and certainly the laws of Physics that Dr. Land usually seemed to bend would fight this latest scheme. No, he said this camera would be a reflex viewing (through the lens) and would not use a solid glass pentaprism. He went on--the film would be capped with a pivot- ing, moving assembly that would have a taking mirror underneath. When elevated, the taking mirror would bend the light rays just at the perfect angle to the now uncapped film below. But how would we view the image? Dr. Land repeated then what would be an often re- peated phrase--"Io solve a problem, you must begin by defining it. Once properly defined, the problem is already partly solved." It was true then and continues to be true now; Dr. Land is a person with the drive and ability to legislate invention. It seems that all he needed to do was think enough about it and a scheme that seemed impossible to some people was already headed toward reality. Dr. Land said we would have a moving mirror and so it would be. The problem of how to view the image when the mirror capped the film loomed larger than life but it had been defined. The space allowed for a viewing lens couldn't exceed .020 of an inch if the camera was to be so thin. Impossible? Not so! The old lighthouses that once dotted our New England coast held the answer to the viewing lens problem. In the days of whaling ships, o11 lamps were magni- fied into brilliant lights by the use of a series of tapered rings of glass. The top surface of each ring was tapered at an ever in- creasing angle. As the rings grew larger in diameter, the rays of light were crisply bent inward.

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