MINOX – The Development of Visible Innovation
Walter Zapp, inventor of the MINOX sub-miniature camera, born on September 4, 1905 in Riga (Latvia), died on July 17, 2003 in Switzerland
A camera that has ambitions to become a classic has to feature an ingenious design which will enthuse photographers for years to come. The first product to carry the MINOX name was a subminiature camera conceived in 1922 and finally invented and produced in 1936 by the German-Latvian Walter Zapp – the legendary designer who wrote photographic history with his revolutionary invention of the first “Ur-MINOX” (first-generation MINOX) in 1936. The ingenious idea was to be seen in its dimensions. A camera smaller than a cigar and weighing less than a cigarette lighter. And featuring an excellent lens. This was a stroke of lasting genius – as the MINOX ECX and the MINOX CLX Special Edition still proves today.
The Latvian factory VEF (Valsts Elektrotehniskā Fabrika) manufactured the camera from 1937 to 1943. After World War II, the camera was redesigned and production resumed in Germany in 1948. Originally envisioned as a luxury item, the original MINOX camera gained wide notoriety as a spy camera.
From 1936 to 1974 the history of the MINOX brand is essentially that of the MINOX subminiature camera. From 1974 the MINOX name also became associated with other photographic products, most notably the MINOX 35mm compact cameras produced from 1974 until 2004. The MINOX GT-E and GT-S are almost as equally famous as the 8×11 predecessor: with nearly 2 million sold, they were one of the world’s smallest 35 mm viewfinder cameras. Classic cameras with more than just excellent design and offering enough possibilities for the creative imagination of any photographer.
MINOX was acquired by Leica in 1996, but a management buyout in 2001 left MINOX an independent company again, making Thorsten Kortemeier the new CEO. Systematically increasing its flexibility and product development, the new MINOX GmbH completely separated from its co-partner Leica Camera AG in 2005.
Although still primarily reknown as the manufacturer of the world famous spy camera, MINOX now primarily focuses on new product lines such as sport optics and miniaturised digital cameras. Continued and innovative development of MINOX sport optics has won the company several prestigious national and international design awards, steadily increasing and further establishing the tradition-rich company as an innovative and qualitative brand.