The idea of an SLR camera with a pentaprism finder that gives a proper viewfinder image existed before World War II, thus the first SLR cameras were created. During the war we can’t talk about the development of cameras, except maybe that of different systems that were used for military purposes. Immediately after the war when photographic companies became active again, the first SLR cameras started to be produced.
Historians disagree among themselves about which camera with a pentaprism finder was actually first released onto the market; therefore I will present to you the first 2 cameras that are considered to be the mothers of all modern cameras. These 2 cameras were presented to the public in 1949.
Alpa Prisma Reflex
Alpa was the brand name which was manufactured by a camera design company from Switzerland that made parts for Swiss watches, the Pignons SA. In 1949, Pignon introduced its first 35mm SLR camera sporting a pentaprism finder, the Alpa Prisma Reflex.
Contax S was another 35mm SLR camera with a pentaprism finder that was also firstly introduced in 1949 by VEB Zeiss Ikon this time by a company in East Germany.
However observing their shape it is clear to be seen that the Contax S was the camera that was the stantard in terms of design of all the future SLR cameras though even the more sophisticated like the current DSLR ones.
Since this post is about the Mother of all modern cameras, I want to show you a model that was the first camera SLR with pentaprism from Japan; this showed the world that Japanese companies besides copying European prototypes could design originals that could be regarded as archetypal of technological evolution. Please admire the Asahi Pentax of 1957 a wonderful camera and an excellent example of a combination of simple design and flawless functionality.