|Bausch + Lomb began making photo lenses in 1880, but the company dates back another 30 years! Talk about experience—and all in the lens business. Their development of photo lenses, however, really took a boom during both World Wars, when military demand increased and made for the majority of their entire production.
Interesting factoids: In 1936, Bausch + Lomb developed the now famous Ray-Ban sunglasses brand for military pilots. And during World War II, they developed the super-wide Metrogon (link) lens used for military aerial reconnaissance.
If you’re a film history buff, you’ll recall that in the mid-century, when televisions began popping up in every Levittown home across America (and Lucille Ball reigned supreme), cinema took a serious blow. Why go to the theater when you can simply switch on the boob tube and see your favorite stars?
The solution? Movies needed to be BIGGER than television! And that’s exactly what Bausch + Lomb achieved in 1953 with their breakthrough wide-screen CinemaScope anamorphic lens doubling the width of the cinema screen, for which they won an Oscar in 1954 and for which they also injected a new stream of patronage into neglected theaters. (The CinemaScope lens was first used by 20th Century-Fox.)
Bausch and Lomb was also one of three companies given a license to manufacture Carl Zeiss Tessar lenses.
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