Toy created by William Gruber
In the 1800's, a new piece of technology came on the scene which allowed
users to view 3-D images. Called the stereograph, this device used double images
on a postcard-sized paper to be viewed so that people saw the scene with depth.
Popular in many homes, the sterograph was limited by its ability to be able to
only see one image at a time.
In 1939, William Gruber invented a device that stored seven different images
on a circular card that could be viewed through a hand-held device. Calling
his invention the View-master, Gruber marketed this new product with the help of
Harold Graves as a type of home entertainment. The Viewmaster not only
allowed users seven images to the sterographs one, it also allowed them to
see the images in color through the use of Kodachrome film.
In 1951, Gruber's partner in the marketing of Viewmaster, Sawyer's, a greeting
card firm, acquired one of their competitors, Tru-View. While it allowed them
to have seemingly no competition in the market, more importantly it allowed them
to acquire Tru-View's contract with Walt Disney Studios. This allowed View-Master
to come out with discs or reels that contained many of Disney's beloved characters
as well as images from that land of dreams, Disneyland.
The View-Master has changed hands many times over the years, but is still a popular
product with children of all ages. Many of the older reels have become much
sought collectors items and are hot commodities.