50th Anniversary of the Canon SLR

2009 marks the 50th year that some version of a Canon SLR has been around. Take a walk down memory lane starting with the Canonflex above, which was released in 1959.

As you’ll see below, Canon launched the EOS 650 in 1987 as its first electronic mount SLR.  When I read this press release, I had to go get my EOS 650 out of my file cabinet and gander at it for a few minutes.  I’ve even got the original product brochure, which boasts “a super-fast autofocus system” – I kid you not.  I am totally busting out the EOS 650 with a roll of film this weekend!

Happy Anniversary Canon!

For more nostalgia check out the press release and images below.



LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., January 6, 2009 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging, is honoring 50 years of SLR camera sales, beginning with the sale of Canon’s first SLR camera in 1959. 2009 is a milestone year, commemorating the passing of 50 years since Canon sold its first single-lens reflex camera. Canon’s single-lens reflex cameras have evolved with the times, incorporating advanced and groundbreaking technology. Exceeding a cumulative total of 53 million units, they have garnered extensive support from photographers around the world. Looking to the future, Canon will continue its efforts to develop its single-lens reflex cameras and lead image culture for the next fifty years.

Canon’s history with 35mm single-lens reflex cameras began in May 1959, when Canon Inc. launched the Canonflex. Thereafter, the Company continued to introduce cameras that embodied solid technology and innovation, including the F-1, its first professional model (1971); the AE-1, the world’s first single-lens reflex camera with built-in CPU (1976); and the T90, a state-of-the-art T Series model (1986).

Additionally, in March 1987, Canon adopted the world’s first electronic mount and launched the EOS650, a new-generation AF single-lens reflex camera with electronic control that was originally between the lens and the body and then encompassed the entire system. The EOS Series, which has continued to the present day, has rapidly expanded users in both the professional segment, with the top-of-the-line EOS-1 (1989), and in the entry segment, with the EOS Rebel (1993), for which size and weight reductions were accomplished.

Since the year 2000, an era of full-fledged digitalization has been dawning, beginning with the EOS D30 (2000). With speed, ease and high image quality as its key concepts, the EOS Digital Series has constantly been a leader in the evolution of single-lens reflex cameras with Canon-developed CMOS sensors, the high-performance image processor DIGIC and an EF lens group that boasts outstanding optical performance and an abundant line-up.

Last year, in 2008, Canon released four models, including the EOS Rebel XSi, which has acquired the top market share in numerous countries around the world, and the EOS 5D Mark II, which is equipped with the first full high-definition movie recording functions for a single-lens reflex camera. With the introduction of these camera models, the Company has successfully created an even more powerful line-up.

As we review this half a century of history, Canon is truly grateful to all of its photographers for their support and seeks to continue the challenge of creating single-lens reflex cameras that provide the best image quality and reliability for the next generation.



  1. says

    Wow, this post made me take out my uncle’s old Canon AT-1 from the 1970s. I received it after he passed away and it’s what I used when I took my first photo class and learned how to develop. Don’t use it anymore in favor of my digital (Canon Rebel XTi), but this just made me remember how special this camera is to me. I’ll have to pop in a roll again sometime soon.