Bell&Howell Perpetua

This 1958 train wreck was a spring wound 8mm memory machine that sold for a whopping $129.95 (the equivalent of 2.6 million today). I love it’s dopey, spring clutched, tri-lens turret that could really catch the action of your grandmother standing next to something.


The real main selling feature of this odd-shaped paper weight is the “Electric Eye”, which, actually, wasn’t. A selenium photo cell was placed in the camera to make it light-sensitive and control the aperture automatically. What is really mind-blowing isn’t the small amount of radiation jammed into this beast, slowly killing you, it’s actually the advertising! I mean check out the strategic use of italic with such tears as perpetual motion and solar grid. Man I miss the 50’s:


All in all, I do love this little ugly beast… it’s funky viewfinder with built-in safety margins and it’s clickity-clack of its motor. It’s got the kind of sex appeal that a 1982 Chevy Malibu with a full cigarette ashtray has, flying down a service road, late for work at the sorting station has. All class.




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