'Leica 1' camera, made by Leitz, 1925.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The Leica (Leitz camera) was developed by Oskar Barnack (1879-1936) while head of the experimental department at the Leitz company in Germany, and was to become the world's first 35mm camera. As early as 1905, Barnack had the idea of reducing the format of negatives and then enlarging the photographs after they had been exposed. Ten years later, as development manager at Leica, he put his theory into practice by using an instrument for taking exposure samples for cinema film, which he developed into the 35mm camera. The revolutionary Leica finally went into serial production in 1924, and was presented to the public in 1925.