National Instrument Corp.  –  Vintage Camera Brand

National Instrument Corp. Brand Overview

National Instrument Corp. logo

Founded: before 1943 — Houston, TX, USA
Currently: defunct

National Instrument Corp. Brand History

National Instrument Corp. was a short-lived camera brand based in the American city of Houston, Texas. It’s unclear when the company was founded but there is evidence of it operating as early as 1943 assembling binoculars on behalf of the US Army and Navy during the Second World War. Beyond its military optics, the National Instrument Corporation is best known for its extremely brief appearance in the camera market circa 1947 although it also produced other photographic goods such as enlargers and studio lighting equipment.

As far as we know, the National Instrument Corp. has only ever produced three cameras. First came the vertically-oriented Camflex which was then followed by two virtually identical military-themed box cameras (perhaps as a nod to its part in the war effort): the Major and the flash-ready Colonel. All three models are constructed of stamped aluminum and utilize the 620 film format.

While the company appears to be active as late as 1951 (and still contracting for the government as it appears in a list of suppliers for the US Department of Defense), its presence in the camera market seems to have ended long before then. There are no readily available records to confirm just how long the National Instrument Corp. sold cameras for but what little evidence there is suggests that this time span could be as short as one or two years. The company is now defunct but when or why it shut down for good is anyone’s guess at this point.

Interested in starting or growing your own collection of National Instrument Corp. cameras?
Check eBay to see what’s available.

McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 2001-2002. (Grantsburg, WI, USA: Centennial Photo Service, 2001), p 488.

United States War Assets Administration Directory of Surplus Real Property April 1947, p 196.

United States Department of Defense Federal Supply Code for Manufacturers November 1951, p 779.

Popular Photography Volume 18, Number 4, April 1946. (Chicago, IL, USA: Ziff-Davis Publishing Company), p 24.

Popular Photography Volume 19, Number 4, October 1946. (Chicago, IL, USA: Ziff-Davis Publishing Company), p 27.

Popular Photography Volume 21, Number 2, August 1947. (Chicago, IL, USA: Ziff-Davis Publishing Company), p 110.

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