PP SLR: Early History: The first ones:

                                   The Pioneers of Europe:
For complete page, please visit: PP SLR: 1948-1954

For complete contents of this page, please visit PP SLR:1948-1954:
It has been hard to establish which of these two was the worlds first PP SLR, the Rectaflex to the left, or the Contax S to the right. Well, it is not difficult if you are among the ones to listen to what "everybody" says. Because "everybody", including Wikipedia and Camerapedia and so and so, says Contax S was Worlds first PP SLR. If you belong to those digging for the truth, however, the answer may be different. Truth will not always follow the majority. Or vice versa. Playwright Henrik Ibsen taught us that in one of his forever actual plays..
When digging deeper into Italian sources, I am reaching some kind of conclusion: 
The constructors of Contax of Dresden, Germany, had been working on the idea of a penta prism slr camera since late 30s. In Italy, Telemaco Corsi started working on his project in 1946, showing a prototype in '47, and his final prototype at the Milano Fiera in April/May of 1948. The Contax S was first shown at a fair in Sweden in the autumn 1948. The Rectaflex started production during fall of '48 and had started selling and exporting their first cameras by October. Contax S was finally shown at Leipzig Spring Fair in 1949, was series produced from September and for sale towards the end of the same year. 
So, what is so often repeated, Contax being just ahead of Rectaflex, just does not seem to be true. A timeline is following:

Timeline Rectaflex vs Contax S:

1936-38: Contax: PP SLR project called Syntax starts in Dresden.
1939-1945: World War II. Dresden heavily bombed, prototypes/drawings destroyed.
1946/May: Rectaflex: Telemaco Corsi starts PP SLR project.
1946: Contax: New group settled to restart the PP SLR project.

1947/April:Rectaflex: 1.mod 947 partly functioning shown at Milano Fiera.
1948/April:Rectaflex: mod Standard 947, fully functioning, shown at Milano Fiera.
1948/June:Rectaflex: starts production of preseries 947.
1948/August:Contax S:1. prototype (A) shown at St.Eriks Fare in Stockholm.
1948/September:Rectaflex starts series production of A 1000 series.
1948/October:Rectaflex starts sales and export to USA and France.
1948/Late:Rectaflex: 1. series partly withheld/withdrawn due to problems with long sh. times.
1949/March:Contax: Contax S prototype B/preseries shown at Leipzig Fair.
1949/April:Rectaflex launching series B 2000 at Fiera Milano, production started.
1949/September:Rectaflex starts prod. series B 3000
1949/September:Contax S: starts series production and later sales.
1949/December: Contax S: stops production due to problems
1950/March: Contax S restarts production

 


The only facts from this list that could possibly lead to the conclusion that Contax was just ahead of Rectaflex, is the introduction of the Contax in Leipzig in March 1949, while Rectaflex introduced their B 2000 series in Milano in April. So, if one did not know that Contax was still months away from serial production, while Rectaflex was already producing their second series, then yes, Contax was first!

 

1948: Italy: Rectaflex:

Worlds first series produced 135 film penta prism slr camera: Rectaflex of Italy. 
Read more about Rectaflex under Lost Brands: Rectaflex! A very old Rectaflex being presented!! 1948-1955: Rectaflex
The wonderful Rectaflex of Italy. The company was never strong and after some 10 000 produced units they ended in 1958, after having been reorganized into a Lichtenstein/Vaduz company since 1955. Two of my cameras seem to work perfectly, the third having a hole in the second curtain. Differing from the Contax, all Rectaflexes had a Trigger Related Mirror! (See "some definitions") The first variants is sometimes called 1000, from the shutter speed, as opposed to the later ones called 1300. Within the 1000 series, there were several production series, from A 1000, B 2000, B 3000, B4000, Junior, B 16000, Rotor, 20000 B. Size: 154x92x48 mm. Weight: 693 g. Sn. oldest: 2238. One of the very oldest from the 2000 series, as the lowest sn.number found is 2233. Sn. younger version: B 13255. (Added the first digit for the US market, so part of the 3000 series.) There is also a Rectaflex Junior. More about this under Lost Brands: Rectaflex.

Lens:

One of the more common lenses on the Rectaflexes: Scneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50/2. Sn. 2145881.

For more on Rectaflex: Rectaflex: 1948-1955The Origin:

For more on Contax S: Contax S: 1949-1962The Origin:

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13.05 | 14:20

Sadly not found the Ricoh XR-7 / Sigma SA-1 / Sears KS-2 camera(s) on the site. They could be produced by Cosina as well, but I have no information about this.

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21.04 | 21:14

For an explanation of the penta mirror, please see the page "Some Definitions".
My definition of PP SLR also include the penta mirror cameras.

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21.04 | 19:28

More about Pentaflex: Probably a penta mirror, which is a lighter, less expensive, a bit darker and simpler edition of the penta prism. Text will be corrected.

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21.04 | 12:20

Hi, Information about this camera is scarce and often differing. What is your source? Anyway, thanks for your help. Does anyone else have information about it?

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