Mod TV commercial for Kodak Instamatic (1966)


My first camera was an instamatic. It sucked only because I was interested in learning the darkroom, so I was shooting verichrome b/w, and those plastic cartridges were a bear to open in the dark. Their design was such that they were actually better at taking flash pictures than non-flash. Fixed focus, fixed aperture, fixed shutterspeed. Those cubes really did revolutionize snapshot photography, even moreso a few years later when they brought out the cube that didn’t require a battery to fire. I still have that first one around here somewhere, and I’m sure it still works. It was built like a little tank, you could hammer nails with it.

Modern digital is unequivocally better in every way, but I still miss the smell of that film.


I remember the flash cube rollout well, even though I was very young. They sure beat changing bulbs every time you took a picture! They drained batteries really quickly, though. Today, I could show my kids this ad and everything in it would be totally foreign to them. If they had to pay for film, developing, flash bulbs, and batteries for every picture, they’d understand why we didn’t take photographs every day.

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$18 in 1966 = $132 today. So point-and-shoot cameras cost essentially the same over 50 years with once unimaginable and jaw-droppingly-improved quality and features.

The best part of flashcubes was that they could be set off manually…it’s been quite a while but as I recall you could poke a thumbtack into the base and pop 'em off. Great (though pricey) fun for a kid.

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Or, if you were really crazy, you could pop the cover, gently pull out the bulb. Hold the stem in side cuts. And clip. The bulb shot off like a rocket and the flashbulb went off. What can I say? I worked in a camera store those long years ago.

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Other series of camera ads I love:

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