Magazine Article


Pitching Jenny's Grandma

Much as Jenny-as-CMO is characterized by Marketing Central as a uniquely "Now" phenomenon, these ads (and many others we could reproduce) from the 1890s through the early 1900s prove that her grandma was very much on the job "Then."
Scanned by Don Sutherland

Scanned by Don Sutherland

Scanned by Don Sutherland

Scanned by Don Sutherland

Scanned by Don Sutherland

Scanned by Don Sutherland

"There's no guess work, no tentative experimenting…no darkroom; the films are simply left for so many minutes in so much developer of a certain temperature." As easy as baking a pie. "And what is more important, the novice gets better results by the Kodak Tank system than does the expert by the old hand development, darkroom method."

If you pressed the button, then you did the rest, Kodak was quite sure you'd find "The Experience is in the Tank."

The Tracks of Bigfoot

It's easy to assign such initiatives to Kodak, because they were a big company by the turn of the century, and could pay for a lot of ink. Their footprints are all over the popular magazines from the 1890s onward.

But there was a herd around them. Smaller camera companies didn't advertise as frequently or as large, but advertise they did. And despite competitive claims, they advertised to women.

"A high artistic sense can be cultivated by the use of a camera as well as with the painter's brush," stated an ad with an illustration of a woman photographer. "If a dry plate camera is used, and you develop your own negatives, Hammer Dry Plates are preferred as they are absolutely clean, crisp and quick. They are dependable."

According to Western Camera Mfg. Co., in an ad headlined "Baby's Picture," "A picture made with home surroundings is certainly more attractive than one obtained in a strange studio." It's the CMO holding the camera. Said Rochester Optical & Camera Co. of their Pony Premo No. 4, "'Perfection and Simplicity combined' best describes this camera."

The fossilized tracks of this ancient herd continue through the 20th century.

The Giant Green Woman

By the turn of the 20th century, the notion of the woman with her own disposable income was already a generation old. The female office worker came along with the typewriter, beginning in 1874, which within 15 years was in use in numbers far beyond the available men needed to run them. Corporate expediency created the white-collar woman, and by the 1890s a vast advertising base was targeting them and their wealth. Indeed, the publishing industry for the first time exploded-there was finally enough advertising to support it.

It was then that Jenny's grandma was born.

If the Chief Memory Officer is the object of pursuit renewed, it's not because nobody tried before. More likely it's due to the promises unkept. Cameras till now may have been simple to use, but within only a limited range.

Lenses were slow, emulsions were slow, shutters gave only a few choices, and you had to go one picture at a time. You probably needed abnormal amounts of light to take "Baby's Picture" in Victorian home surroundings, and developing pictures, even in daylight, was boring. A "delightful recreation-study?" "A high artistic sense?" Who needs that when you have Oprah?

Picture-taking needed to become more successful, easier, and at least as compelling as TV.

Hold that digicam at arm's length, Jenny, and look at the picture on the screen. Press here to freeze-frame. Press again, and again in burst under normal room light, and pick the best one in daylight-after they're processed before your eyes on the computer. Ah, here's the best of the lot-make a print for those who want it, send e-mail attachments to the rest. Don't forget the website.

There's nothing new about Jenny, there's nothing new about her green. What's new is, we are finally keeping that promise, and nobody really needs chocolates and flowers.

Don Sutherland has sold cameras across the counter, shot with them as a pro, and written about them for more than 30 years. Don is a photo historian as well as a futurist, and is the author of the immortal slogan, "If you have one foot in the future and one in the past, you understand the present perfectly." Email Don at Go to for a ton of digital photos.