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The Evolution of Selfie: Women taking Photobooth selfies from 1900s to 1970s

Ian Smith


Nowadays, surely, is easier to take a selfie, all you need is an iPhone, a mirror, and a duckface pose, but back in the days, selfie was way more official than today is. Going to the photo-booth was rather a special event, which often meant getting all dressed up in “Sunday’s church clothes,” smoothing down hair and wearing the best hats.

The first “selfie- machine’ or photo booth was first introduced in 1883 by a Percival Everett, in the beginnings of the Edwardian Era.  However, the first commercially available photo booth was called “Bosco” and was created by  Conrad Bernitt in 1890.

Going in the photo booth and taking self-portraits was a special process of self-expression and showing to the world how you are. This selection of women taking photos in photo booth, reveals the nature of self-expressing.

1900s and 1910s













The patent for the first automated photography machine was filed in 1888 by William Pope and Edward Poole of Baltimore. It probably was never built. The first known really working photographic machine was a product of the French inventor T. E. Enjalbert (March 1889). It was shown at the World Fair in Paris in 1889. The German born photographer Mathew Steffens from Chicago filed a patent for such a machine in May 1889. These early machines were not reliable enough to be self-sufficient. The first commercially successful automatic photographic apparatus was the “Bosco” from the Inventor Conrad Bernitt of Hamburg (Patented July-16-1890). All these early machines produced ferrotypes. The first photographic automate with negative and positive process was invented by the German Carl Sasse (1896).







The modern concept of photo booth with (later) a curtain originated with Anatol Josepho (previously Josephewitz), who had arrived in the U.S. from Russia in 1923. with the first photo booth appearing 1925 on Broadway in New York City. For 25 cents, the booth took, developed and printed 8 photos, a process taking roughly ten minutes. In the first six months after the booth was erected, it was used by 280,000 people. The Photomaton Company was created to place booths nationwide. On March 27, 1927, Josepho was paid $1,000,000 and guaranteed future royalties for his invention.


Ian Smith

Ian Smith is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News