Tuesday, July 3, 2012


The View-Master toy arose out of old fashioned stereopsis viewers. They were used to view 2 photos side by side. The photos were almost identical and tricked the brain into thinking the photos had depth. Stereoscopes were made of wood and were rather expensive. But many families had the novelty items in their homes. The photos were often of tourist spots in the United States. The photos were mounted on stiff cardboard and clipped into the end viewer a short distance from the glass eye ports.

In 1939 2 men, Wilhelm Gruber and Harold Graves decided to join forced to make a new kind of viewer which would be much smaller and lighter. The viewer used new, lighter color film, which was mounted on a small cardboard wheel, 7 pictures per wheel. There where 2 views of the same image on the same disk mounted a suitable distance apart. They called their invention the View-Master and it debuted at the New York World’s Fair and was sold along side traditional scenic postcards.

At first the subjects were just tourist areas but soon the types of subjects expanded to popular culture, including everything Disney. View-Master got the rights for Disney subjects when they bought out a rival in 1952.

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