A3 35 mm camera manufactured by Argus, Michigan, U.S.A., circa 1940.
Features a coated Cintar f3.5 50 mm lens, shutter speed 1/10 to 1/300 th of a second and built-in range finder.

It was the introduction of the Argus model A camera, the precursor to the A3, in 1936 that established the supremacy of the 35mm film format by creating a mass market for miniature photography and convincing Eastman Kodak Corporation that the 1x1½ inch format had a viable future.

The camera was the brainchild of Ann Arbor entrepreneur Charles A. Verschoor, the president of the International Radio Corporation. It was the middle of the Great Depression, and Verschoor was looking for a product that would keep his factory busy and his employees working during the slow periods of the radio business, which was highly seasonal. He had become familiar with the Leica camera during a visit to Europe and believed he could design and mass-produce a 35mm camera that could be sold cheaply yet was capable of making pictures of a quality suitable for the audience he had in mind. The Argus A was not a Leica. It didn't have the fine machining or precision optics of the German miniature. But it didn't have to. It was ideal for the amateur market Verschoor envisioned. The camera debuted with a list price of US$ 10.00 and more than 30,000 were sold in the first week.

The success of the Argus camera changed the company's direction. Verschoor sold his radio patents, changed the name of the firm to International Research Corporation, and set about developing a line of cameras, slide projectors, darkroom equipment, and other photographic accessories. One of the most important developments was the introduction of the Argus model C in 1938. This later become the Argus C-3 in 1939, which would become the best selling 35mm camera in the world. The Argus C-3, the venerable "brick", would remain in production until 1966 and sell more than 3 million units in its three decade life-span.

Physical Description

Black and chrome, metal body, 35mm format camera with retractable lens. Chrome-plated top, lens and film calculator. The top plate has the viewfinder, film winder button and shutter release.

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