When I started collecting cameras I insisted on getting cameras that worked. After getting a number of them, however, I resigned myself to using only a few. So I don’t really expect to use this camera much – if at all. So why did I get it? I got it because it fits a couple of niches in my camera collection: 1) It’s a rangefinder camera, which I what I originally started collecting; 2) My original camera was a Minolta Hi-matic 7sii and I’ve always had an idea that I might collect all of the cameras in the series and this is the original Minolta Hi-matic, or as the re-badged US version was called: the Ansco Autoset; 3) The Ansco Autoset has an interesting story behind it – it may well have been the first camera in space:
Nearly 50 years ago, John Glenn purchased a camera at a drug store that served as the first astronomical experiment performed by a human in space. That three-orbit voyage for Glenn included two cameras, one the Ansco he purchased and the other a Leica supplied by NASA. The flight not only kicked off decades of orbital experiences for U.S. astronauts, but also science experiments, observations, and thousands of rolls of film and digital files created through hand-held photography. The results of those experiments and the photos taken are what people left on Earth use even today to understand human spaceflight.
As can be seen in the picture above the camera was much modified. Note that the camera is upside down, with a handle added on top (bottom in the picture) and an additional viewfinder has been added to the bottom (top in the picture). Follow the link above to an article with more information.