View-Master

Inducted 1999

When Harold Graves, president of Sawyer’s Photographic Services, went to the Oregon Caves National Monument in 1938, he saw fellow camera buff William Gruber using two cameras strapped together. Gruber explained that he planned to update the stereoscopes common in 19th-century drawing rooms by producing three-dimensional color slides and a new hand-held viewer. By the next morning, the two had made a deal to produce View-Master. They introduced their creation at the 1939 New York World’s Fair and then began selling it through specialty photography stores. Following the lead of its predecessor, the first reels presented views of scenic attractions around the country. In 1951, however, View-Master acquired its main competitor, film-strip production company Tru-Vue, and with it the stereo licensing rights to all Disney characters. Graves and Gruber hit the jackpot. View-Master began offering three-dimensional images of the brand new Disneyland amusement park and stills from Disney movies and television programs. Once sales exploded, View-Master offered slide reels of virtually every major kids’ show and motion picture. A number of different manufacturers have produced View-Master, including Tyco Toys and Fisher-Price.