The Fotron was a camera manufactured in Glendale, California by the Traid Corporation and sold door-to-door during the 1960s. Aimed primarily at women, it was marketed as a simpler alternative to "complicated" traditional cameras. The Fotron had a number of innovative features, including a built-in electronic flash, rechargeable battery, motorized film advance, and push-button exposure control. It used standard 828 rollfilm packaged in a proprietary snap-in cartridge. However, due to its high price (ranging from $150 USD to almost $500) and the fact that film had to be returned to the manufacturer for processing, the Fotron is often regarded as something of a scam.
The Fotron was a large and heavy camera, similar in size to a folded Polaroid Land Camera of the same era. Much of the bulk came from the built-in flash unit and rechargeable battery. Exposure was set by pushing one of two buttons, marked "indoors" and "outdoors" respectively. This also served to turn on the flash circuitry in preparation for taking a picture. The exposure would then be made by choosing from a second set of buttons, labeled with various camera-to-subject distances. This would set the focus accordingly and then trip the shutter and the flash, which fired with every exposure. The film would then be automatically advanced to the next frame.
Traid produced three Fotron models, all of which were essentially the same. The original model was simply marked "Fotron" and had a black plastic housing. Somewhat confusingly, the second model was the Fotron III, which had two focus buttons instead of three but was otherwise identical to its predecessor. The third model, again only labeled "Fotron," regained the third focus button and also featured a gray plastic housing and a different style of frame counter.
The Fotron was the subject of a class-action suit filed against the Traid Corporation in 1972. The plaintiffs alleged that the Fotron cameras they had purchased were sold for over ten times their actual value and that Traid had misrepresented the product both implicitly and in writing. The outcome of this case is uncertain.
- George Eastman House
- color flier about the camera and link to the lawsuit
- www.orpancameras.com Complete instruction manual