Sure, there have been plenty of technological breakthroughs over the years that make something like a View-Master seem more than a bit antiquated. But there is such a simplistic charm to this little plastic box that allowed the young mind to travel to faraway lands, once visited or never before explored, and see them in all of their three-dimensional splendor.
Everyone who has experienced the pleasure of a View-Master distinctly remembers the little lever and the clicking sound it made when advancing to the next frame. And any tourist of earlier decades can remember a time when seemingly every destination, not to mention every department and toy store, displayed racks containing hundreds of little discs.
To trace the history of the View-Master, one must go all the way back to 1938. A photography buff named William Gruber envisioned a contraption that could take a slide, consisting of two overlapping images, that when looked at through two eyepieces would present a three-dimensional picture. It was a great idea, and one that might have remained just that, had Mr. Gruber not crossed paths with another tourist named Harold Graves while both were visiting the Oregon Caves National Monument.
Mr. Sawyer was an employee of Sawyer’s Photographic Services and soon, the two photo enthusiasts were talking shop into the wee hours of the morning. A year later, they set out to create their first prototype of what would come to be known as a View-Master. The earliest discs consisted of natural wonders such as Virginia’s Luray Caves and Colorado’s Pike’s Peak and they marketed their invention to nature buffs. And once the View-Masters started clicking away, they didn’t stop – the simple contraption was an instant hit.