Ebay camera 12


Sony ProMavica MVC-5000 camera

This formidable weapon is one of the earliest digital cameras to be put on the market. It’s a Sony ProMavica MVC-5000, released in 1989. It’s not really a “digital” camera, since the image is not recorded in pixel photosites, it’s really a “still-video” camera because the recorded image is magnetic like on video tape.

“The images were captured on the disk by using two CCD (charge-coupled device) chips.  One chip stored luminance information, and the other separately recorded the chrominance information. The images could be stored on the floppy disk either in Frame or Field mode. When Frame was selected, each picture was recorded on two tracks and up to 25 images could be recorded on each disk. When Field was selected, each picture was recorded on only one track, allowing up to 50 images to be recorded.” (http://www.digicamhistory.com/1989.html)

The camera sold for $10,000 – about $20,000 in today’s money. That should buy a lot of camera, yet its 2-inch floppy disc stored images of only 720,000-pixels. That’s less than one megabyte! Despite that the camera was often used by the press as images could be sent internationally over phone lines – this is before the internet. Click here for a history of digital camera technology.

The camera no longer costs $10,000. It can be yours for only a few hundred dollars here on ebay.

My Penguin cover design


Greg Neville, Penguin cover design for the 1960 novel.

Jane Graham is unmarried and pregnant when she is turned out of her comfortable suburban home by an angry father. She lights dejectedly on a bug-ridden room at the top of a squalid house in Fulham. She cares nothing for it, or herself, or her neighbours. 

Lynne Reid Banks’ first novel, the L-Shaped Room, was a best-seller when it was published in 1960 and a movie was soon made starring Leslie Caron. Penguin Books published the first paperback edition in 1962 with a cover drawing by Terence Greer. A later edition featured a too-literal photograph.


Designer Paul Murray has posted the Penguin template on his website which you can download and insert your own image and title into; you can pretend you’re a real Penguin designer from the 1960s. The cover layout is in the famous Marber grid, designed by Romek Marber for Penguin Books in 1961. Baby boomers will recognize it because Penguins dominated the paperback market in the postwar decades.

The image in my design is labelled Repaired Photograph and can be found on John Foster’s site at Design Observer. It’s clearly from about 1960, and shows a young woman of about the same age as the novel’s character Jane. The torn up portrait, clumsily repaired with sticky tape, suggests the character’s own journey in the novel, from despair to recovery.


Death by developer



The Camera Clue, by George Harmon Coxe, Dell paperback 27, 1943.

This cover illustration features a man apparently drowned in a developing tray – surely a first in crime fiction.

It’s a 1943 Dell paperback from the US, an imprint that featured some of the best covers of the era. This one is by Gerald Gregg, an expert in their small format poster-style covers. Bernie Salbreiter did the lettering. The 1940s and 50s was a golden age for paperback cover design.

The book’s author George Harmon Coxe was a successful pulp and popular fiction writer who specialised in crime novels. The hero of some of his novels was “Flashgun” Casey, a crime photographer for a morning newspaper. ‘With the help of reporter Ann Williams, he solved crimes and recounted his stories to friends at The Blue Note, their favourite tavern.’ Flashgun was apparently a more hip version of the more famous crime photographer Weegee.

Feast your eyes on these gorgeous photography-themed covers from 70 years age.


Murder With Pictures, by George Harmon Coxe, Dell paperback 1946 


Silent are the Dead by George Harmon Coxe, Dell paperback 1948