The View-Master Stereo reel system was invented by William Gruber from Portland, Oregon (USA) in the 1930s. He patented this system on January 20, 1939. That same year Viewmaster was introduced at New York World's Fair for the first time.
On this website I have produced a list of stereo-reels produced in the former Czechoslovakia (mainly by the Meopta Company), between 1962 and 1985 and also an overview of accessories, called the "Meopta stereo program". While in production, Meopta issued more then 1300 different reels.
The company emerged as a fusion of two nationalized producers of optical devices: Optikotechna Přerov and C. P. Göerz Bratislava.
In 1907 the Vienna based company C. P. Göerz established its subsidiary in Bratislava for the production of optical and mechanical devices. The company first produced military optical products used primarily by the artillery and partially by the navy of the Austria-Hungary military. After World War I the production plan was shifted towards more civilian products such as movie camers, binoculars, magnifying glasses, compasses, and field-glasses. Other items such as manometers, alarm clocks, speakers, and refractometers were also produced. The company was renamed to Meopta in 1958. Meopta was nationalized in 1968.
Optikotechna was established in Přerov in 1933 by Dipl.Ing. Alois Beneš. In the early 1930s, it produced photo enlargers and other darkroom equipment, as well as optical lenses. By 1939, it was producing consumer cameras for the domestic market. The company's first camera was the Flexette, a 6x6 twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera, starting what would become a long line of TLR models (the famous Flexaret range of cameras). During World War II the company produced a broad selection of optical equipment for the German military. In 1946, it was nationalized by Czechoslovakia's communist authorities and renamed Meopta. After the war, it concentrated on the manufacture of photoenlargers, projectors and sport optics, which has remained its most successful product area to the present day. Military optics also continued to play a significant role in its product portfolio until the 1980s, when civil production began to dominate. The company was privatized in 1992.
The Meopta stereo program was mainly produced in Hynčice near Broumov (part of the Meopta Přerov company between 1956 - 1987). Among the stereo reels I have listed are some produced in other countries. For example American View-Master produced in Belgium, France, Australia, and India. In Italy reels were made under the trade-mark Stereo-Rama, in Brazil under the trade-mark Alto-Relevo and in former Czechoslovakia under the trade-mark Meopta and Plastikolor.
My overview consists of the reels and accessories of which I am aware (my collection). On this site you will find a description of each reel, scene titles, booklet details and, where possible, pictures (reproduced with my Canon EOS 350D and bellows attachment)
I am always looking to further improve my site and would like to hear from you via E-mail if you have any suggestions or improvements that could be made. I would like to exchange reels with you, too.
Milan Kopal, Prague, Czech Republic
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