The View-Master made its international debut at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. Though the rights to the View-Master have belonged to several different companies over the years, the device’s concept remains the same: It enables users to see photographic images in color-saturated 3-D.
The View-Master’s inventor, Bavarian-born William B. Gruber, immigrated to Portland in 1924. He was a piano repairman and organ builder by trade, but a chance meeting at the Oregon Caves in 1938 quickly changed his career path. It was there that Gruber met Harold Graves, with whom he formed a partnership to manufacture the View-Master. They intended it to be used as an educational tool, for medical students and for those who wished to see flora and fauna from all over the world using the hand-held device. At present, the View-Master is primarily considered a children’s toy and is owned by Fisher-Price.
To celebrate the 75th year of the iconic viewer, a party will be held at its “birthplace” in Cave Junction, Oregon.
Have you ever owned a View-Master? What significance do View-Masters have to you?
- Gretchen Gruber Harmon: Daughter of the inventor of the View-Master, William B. Gruber
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OPB | Feb. 22, 2017