The Brownie camera is significant in that it made photography affordable for everyone. The Kodak (1888) cost $25 and about 5000 were sold. The Brownie (1900) sold for $1 and had sales of about 250,000. The development of a flexible film base during the 1890’s and the success of the Brownie led to economies of scale and demands for photographic products which laid the foundations for the modern photographic industry.

The first model of the Brownie had a box-lid back. To remove the back, one pressed on indentations on either side of the back and pulled. This proved unreliable and an improved model with a hinged back was quickly introduced. The original and improved models were both known as the Brownie. When the No. 2 Brownie was introduced in October 1901 the Brownie was renamed the No. 1 Brownie.

The Brownie was designed and manufactured by Frank A. Brownell and named after the popular children’s characters whose stories were written and illustrated by Palmer Cox.

The Brownie was announced in the Kodak Trade Circular of February 1900 and the first cameras were shipped on February 8th. The Circular of May 1900 states, " Full page Brownie advertisements have been ordered in all of the leading ten cent magazines for June. The Youth’s Companion for May 17th will run a Brownie half page". Additional advertising details are given in the June 1900 Circular and the availability of a Brownie finder appears in the July issue. For more complete information see Eaton S. Lothrop, Jr., The Brownie Camera, History of Photography, Volume 2, Number 1, January 1978.