The Collector's Guide to Praktina System
From Kamera-Werkstätten to Pentacon Dresden

1919 - 1938
Kamera-Werkstätten Guthe and Thorsh GmbH
The Kamera-Werkstätten was established in 1919 by Paul Guthe and Benno Thorsch. In 1928 the production was moved to Bärensteiner Strasse 30, near the Ica-Werk of Zeiss Ikon AG. In 1930 the production exceeded the 100 cameras per day with 150 workers. The Company produced in the twenties and thirties interesting cameras like the Patent-Etui-Kamera in 1920, the Pilot 3x4 in 1931, the Pilot 6 in 1935 and the Pilot Super in 1939. At the end of 1937 Paul Guthe immigrated to Switzerland since as Jew he fears for one's life.

1938
Kamera-Werkstätten, vormals Guthe and Thorsh
In 1938 Benno Thorsch, before to immigrate to the USA since as Jew he fears for one's life, made a deal with Charles Adolf Noble. Benno Thorsch bought the Noble's Photocopy Company in Detroit, USA, and Charles A. Noble bought the Kamera-Werkstätten in Dresden.

1938 - 1946
Kamera-Werkstätten C. A. Noble
In 1939 Charles A. Noble moved the Company to Niedersedlitz, near Dresden, into the building of a former factory of drops and sweets.
The Kamera-Werkstätten showed at the Leipzig fair, spring 1939, the Praktiflex, a design begun in 1937 with Benno Thorsch and the engineer Alois Hoheisel. This new and interesting camera was a 35mm Single Lens Reflex with fixed waist-level finder and interchangeable lens with 40mm thread mount. The Kamera-Werkstätten produced 11.000 Praktiflex cameras from 1939 till the end of WWII in May 1945.

1946 - 1948
Kamera-Werkstätten VEB Niedersedlitz
After the WWII Germany was divided in two zones with Dresden under the Soviet occupation. In 1946 Charles A. Noble lost the property of the Company that was nationalized by the German Government with the name VEB Kamera-Werkstätten Niedersedlitz.

1948 - 1951
MECHANIK Kamera-Werkstätten VEB Niedersedlitz
In 1948 KW introduced the Praktica, the first camera with 42x1 thread mount. The design of this new camera was developed from the Praktiflex under the leadership of the young engineer Siegfried Boehm.

1951 - 1953
OPTIK Kamera-Werkstätten VEB Niedersedlitz
In 1952 KW showed the prototype of a 35mm Single Lens Reflex named Praktina. This camera, designed by Siegfried Boehm, is the first example of a professional 35mm SLR camera system. The Praktina was the first camera to allow the interchangeability of lens, finder, focusing screen, camera back and with the capability to use an electric motor.

August 1953 - 1958
VEB Kamera-Werke Niedersedlitz
In August 1953 the Company, at that time with more than 1000 employees, changed the name in VEB Kamera-Werke Niedersedlitz. In 1956 KW introduced the Praktisix, a 6x6 SLR camera with a fully automatic control of the lens diaphragm and interchangeability of screens and finders.

1959 - 1963
VEB Kamera- und Kinowerke Dresden
In January 1959 the Company merged with VEB Kinowerke Dresden, VEB Altissa-Camera-Werke, VEB Aspecta Dresden, VEB Welta-Kamera-Werke Freital/Sa. into the VEB Kamera- und Kinowerke Dresden and the "KW" logo was replaced with the "Zeiss Tower" logo. The production of Contax-Pentacon and Praktina cameras was discontinued after a short time when KW took the decision to develop all the future SLR on the design of the Praktica body.

1964 - 1967
VEB PENTACON DRESDEN Kamera- und Kinowerke
In January 1964 the Company changed the name into VEB PENTACON DRESDEN Kamera- und Kinowerke. The production of Praktica cameras continued with several models including the Praktica mat of 1965 with TTL exposure control. In 1966 PENTACON presented the Pentacon Super, a top camera with TTL metering at full working aperture, metal-leaf focal-plane shutter for speeds to 1/2000 and 42x1 mount. This camera, used in Soviet space stations in 1969, was heir to the Praktina with the same professional features as the interchangeability of lens, finder, screen, back and the capability to fit a motor. In 1966 Pentacon six replaces the former model Praktisix.

1968 - 1984
Kombinat VEB PENTACON DRESDEN
With the combination of the Ihagee Kamerawerk the Company changed the name into Kombinat VEB PENTACON DRESDEN. The production of Praktica cameras continued with significant models as the Praktica PL Electronic (1968) with electronic shutter, the Praktica LLC (1969) with electric control of lens diaphragm, the Praktica B200 (1979) with the new Praktica-bayonet mount that replaces the 42x1 thread mount after 30 years.

1985 - June 1990
VEB PENTACON DRESDEN
With the combination of the Feinoptisches Werk Göerlitz the Company changed the name into VEB PENTACON DRESDEN. A new name appeared on some SLR: Jenaflex. The VEB Pentacon Dresden ceased the activity in 1990 after the reunification of Germany. Over 9 million of cameras with the name Praktica were produced from 1947 to 1990.
 
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Last revision: 1st January 2011

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