A Legend is Born

Very often, the greatest inventions are the result of quite pragmatic considerations. In the first years of the art, photographers were mainly concerned with hauling their heavy plate cameras, along with their tripod and darkroom, from one location to the next. Their trials and tribulations stimulated one man into seeking a completely new method of taking photographs. His name was Oskar Barnack.

Even as early as 1905, he had the idea of reducing the format of negatives and then enlarging the photographs after they had been exposed. It was only ten years later, as development manager at Ernst Leitz, that he was able to put his theory into practice. This amateur photographer took an instrument for taking exposure samples - originally intended for cinema film - and turned it into the world's first 35 mm camera: the 'Ur-Leica'.

The miniature film format of 24 x 36 mm is still in use today. At the time, it was created by simply doubling the cinema film format. The first photos - of outstanding quality for the time - were made in 1914. Progress was interrupted by the First World War, so the first LEICA (Leitz Camera) did not go into serial production until 1924, being presented to the public in 1925.

A few years ago the photographic equipment part of the Leitz Organisation in Wetzlar, Germany, became a separate company named LEICA Camera. LEICA Camera manufactures cameras, lenses, projectors, binoculars and telescopes. Backed by inventions and an innovative power that go back to Oskar Barnack and his idea, LEICA is today working on the creation of the tools that will take that new view of things forward through this millennium.