Towards the end of War World II, in 1945, Eastman Kodak Company made the Camera-X for use by the Office of Secret Service (forerunner to the CIA).
Officially called the Eastman M.B. for match box it has a Bakelite inner body containing the camera's working parts, the film and the lens assembly. This plastic body slid into an outer metal sleeve. The whole camera (7/8x1 1/2 x 2 3/8 inches 22x38x60mm) was then to fit into a wooden matchbox which are typically smaller 15x40x55mm.
The shutter is set to 1/60th second or B for timed exposures. The f5 25mm Tessar type lens could be set to f8 (f16 ref William White), adjusted by a small pin. The fixed lens had a focal range of 4.5 feet to infinity. The two foot length of film took 34 exposures. Negative size is 14x14mm. It was originally supplied with several rolls of film, tablets of chemicals, spoon, agitating stick, chamois, and film clips. It could also be used with a special stand and close up lens to copy documents. It was requisitioned with labels like a Swedish or Japanese matchbox or plain for camouflage by the operator.
The first model simply loaded roll film, but had jamming problems. The second model uses film spools. Model 1 has three markings 120 degrees apart on the winding knob. Model 2 has only two markings exactly 180 degrees apart.
The initial order for 500 cameras was delivered in early 1944. A second order for 500 additional cameras was completed in 1944-1945. Some sources suggest that there may have been three times that number manufactured.
Although well designed for untrained personnel under adverse conditions the camera's picture quality is only mediocre.
After World War II and with the Cold War in Europe improved models to the Kodak matchbox camera began to be made in West Germany. Some have f2.8 Goerz lens.
George Eastman House, Rochester, NY http://www.geh.org/fm/mees/htmlsrc/mE13000107_ful.html (from Coe, Brian. --Kodak Cameras: The First Hundred Years.-- Hove, East Sussex: Hove Foto Books, 1988. p 289)
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Last updated 20th May 2006