With the late 1970s and 1980s being a prime time for instant photography, it’s not surprising that camera companies thought about challenging the reign of Polaroid. Perhaps unknown to many today or forgotten by most, Kodak released their doomed attempt at instant cameras and film in 1977. Allow us to refresh your memory or give you an idea with today’s featured vintage camera commercial for the Kodak Handle.
The commercial above is a fun, light-hearted introduction to the Handle as “the instant camera you’ve been waiting for.” As with the popular Polaroid cameras of the time, the Handle takes color instant photos, but with some noticeable differences in its approach. As the commercial shows, you hold the handle on the side and crank it to push out the print after each shot. Then, you wait some minutes for the image to appear, just as you would a Polaroid print.
Polaroid’s response to the Handle isn’t surprising. According to Vintage Camera Lab, the company took Kodak to court for patent infringement in 1981 and won. This was despite some differences in the integral instant film developed for the Handle and earlier models (EK and Kodamatic series introduced in 1976). So, Kodak was ordered to stop manufacturing both the cameras and films and pay Polaroid $925 million. According to Wikipedia, they also had to pay a settlement to customers who were no longer able to use their defunct camera. They were also offered credit for purchasing new Kodak cameras.
While it’s now incredibly difficult to find Kodak instant films, there are still a lot of Kodak instant cameras like the Handle out there, especially on auction sites and eBay. If you’re interested in adding a piece of instant photography history to your camera collection, you might want to grab this untested but good condition Kodak Handle for only $12.
Screenshot image from the video