Revere Camera Company
Founded1920 (1920) in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
FounderSamuel Briskin
Defunct1960 (1960)
FateAcquired by 3M
Chicago, Illinois
ProductsMovie cameras, projectors

The Revere Camera Company was started in 1920 by Samuel Briskin, who also started Wollensak Recorders and Opticals.


Founded in 1920 in Chicago, Illinois, as the Excel Auto Radiator Company by Ukrainian immigrant Samuel Briskin to manufacture car radiators, but started manufacturing some coarse household products later in the decade.

Built for Excel – and designed by Alfred S. Alschuler,[1] the manufacturing facility was located at 320 E. 21st St., Chicago, Illinois.[2] They started making budget 8 mm movie cameras in 1939 through a subsidiary run by Briskin's sons, such as the Revere 88 Movie Camera and the Revere 85 8mm Projector. That company was later merged into Excel Auto Radiator Co., which then changed its name to Revere Camera Co. The Revere name is taken from the Revere Copper Company,[2] which provided financial backing for Excel during the depression.

In November 1952, Revere purchased the nearby Atwell Building – also designed by Alfred S. Alschuler[3] – at 221 E. Cullerton St., Chicago, Illinois – and operated machinery on four of the building's eight floors.[4] In the 1950s, the company was the second largest manufacturer of small movie cameras in the United States. In order to grow that business further the company took over their primary lens and shutter supplier, New Jersey-based Wollensak Optical Co. The Revere brand name had become synonymous with budget cameras; soon after the take-over Wollensak models appeared that were mechanically almost-identical to the standard Revere models but had better lenses, more stylish casing, and sold for a premium price.

Revere started manufacturing tape recorders in the early 1950s. That side of the business never became an important part of the company's output.

Revere, starting probably in the 1950s, produced a rotary grinding hand tool similar to the Dremel Moto-tool. The Revere-O-Matic was a 0.55 ampere model that operated at 15,000 r.p.m. (Model No. RG-1). The tools that attached to its collet are compatible with the Dremel tool. The standard product included a table mount and a system for duplicating objects, adaptable to the Dremel without modification.

Samuel Briskin was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in 1960 and sold the company to 3M for $17 million (equivalent to $156 million in 2021).[5][6]

Cameras and projectors

Revere made 8mm (Revere 85) and 16mm movie projectors and cameras (Revere 44/88), as well as a 16mm sound Projector (S-16).[6][7]

The Revere takes the clearest and steadiest home movies you have ever seen. Its advanced design (pocket size), its exclusive automatic film-threading sprocket, five speeds (including slow motion), precision construction, and many other proven features make Revere the outstanding value of 8mm movie cameras.

— 1941 advertisement for the Revere Model 88 camera[6]


  1. ^ AIA Guide to Chicago, 3rd Edition. AmericanInstituteOfArchitectsChicago. 2014. ISBN 9780252096136. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Revere Camera Company, est. 1939". MadeInChicagoMuseum. 2019. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  3. ^ "The Buildings of Alfred S. Alschuler". CommunityWalk. 2014. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
  4. ^ "NEW BUILDING PURCHASED BY REVERE CAMERA". ChicagoTribune. 1952. ProQuest 178501478. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ "Revere Camera Company". Defunct Companies. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Andrew Clayman (2019-08-10). "Revere Camera Company, est. 1939". Made-in-Chicago Museum. Retrieved 2021-03-12.
  7. ^ Andrew Clayman (August 10, 2019). "Revere Camera Company, est. 1939". Made-in-Chicago Museum. Retrieved March 12, 2021.