So many things that were originally intended as toys ended up in the hands of the military. At least this one wasn't used as a weapon!
Wilhelm Gruber was vacationing in 1939 when he met the president of a picture postcard and film developing company, Harold Graves. There aren’t too many businesses more doomed for failure in the 21st century than a shop dedicated to postcards and film developing. It’s a good thing they were geniuses and patented the View-master, an invention designed as an alternative to a postcard that made use of obsolete pieces of equipment called stereoscopes.
When it debuted at the New York World’s Fair in 1939, it was mostly sold in stationary stores and gift shops portraying landmarks like the Grand Canyon. However, in 1942 the U.S. military, deeply rooted in WWII, saw the potential for View-masters to be used to train soldiers. The military purchased more than 100,000 View-masters with millions of reels of film custom outfitted with pictures to aid in spotting artillery and aircraft. Nowadays, they are highly sought after by collectors and ex-soldiers seeking that warm nostalgic feeling of air raid sirens and widespread death.
Ya know, I still have a stereoscope (it's a reproduction, of course) but I don't have a View-Master anymore. Maybe I should find one again! Might be a kick to see one after all these years, know what I mean? We had some pretty cool toys in our generation, and none of them were digital! Imagine that!
Coffee out on the patio this morning. The kitties are allowed outside now, so watch where you step!