From The Guardian, Eamonn McCabe, Sean Smith, and Denis Thorpe talk about the importance of the Leica on the 100th anniversary of the creation of the original prototype. McCabe starts off with this comment:
Now that we all carry cameraphones in our pockets, it’s hard to imagine that the biggest breakthrough in photography actually happened back in 1914 – when Oskar Barnack invented the Leica.
Suddenly, photographers could throw away their heavy tripods and exploding flashguns, and step out of their studios to walk the streets and take photographs with this new mobile camera.
Barnack, a German optical engineer who specialised in microscope research, was also a keen amateur photographer, but his health was poor and he couldn’t carry the heavy cameras of the time. He quickly turned his prototype Ur-Leica into a lasting success. By 1932, there were 90,000 cameras. By 1961, a million cameras were in use.