The first attempts made to automate the forward movement of film and the resetting of the shutter so as to improve the speed of the shooting date back to the beginning of the 20th Century. During the 1960s manufacturers, Japanese included, offered motorized cameras.

The very first motorized camera was the Pascal, invented by Fran├žois Pascal from Lyon and patented in 1899. This clockwork camera made it possible to take a dozen consecutive shots, 3 to 4 shots per second. The release opened the shutter and made the film move forward. Various attempts to automate the forward movement of the film were made after that.

In 1934, German company Otto Berning & Co produced the Robot, a compact camera following a new design with a clockwork motor which could be wound using a knurled knob. In 1936, Leica designed a first device, before making a clockwork motor which was made electric from 1939.

During the 1960s, manufacturers made electric motors which could be fitted underneath the reflex cameras, making it possible to take series of burst-shots, the use of which became more and more widespread.
Thus equipped, the photographer could trigger quicker successive series of shots so as to try and capture the most evocative moment of a given event. And where a handful of images of the same subject had been the norm, it became quite common to use an entire roll of film…

Alpa Reflex camera model 10d, Pignons SA, Ballaigues, Switzerland, 1968-1974, equipped with a Tenmotor motor with a device acting directly on the cocking lever.
(MSAP/collection Alpa Bourgeois Columberg)