Photo-Sonics, Inc. Company History - A Brief Synopsis


Since the founding of Photo-Sonics, Inc. some seven decades ago, the company's record of performance and integrity is a recognized achievement in the photo-optical instrumentation field and the motion picture industry. The contribution by Photo-Sonics, Inc., to this discipline has been continuously demonstrated by the high performance level exhibited by equipment now in use at the nation's major missile test ranges, defense installations, scientific laboratories, military test ranges, military research centers, in military aircraft, and at major corporations.

In the late 1920's Adolph Furer founded the business as Acme Tool and Manufacturing Company. The company began primarily as a contract machine shop. In ensuing years the company moved into the motion picture field through contact with Walt and Roy Disney. The Disney's were in a specialized and entirely new field of photography for which appropriate equipment, including animation cameras, was not available. The initial business development was to manufacture specialized equipment for animation photography and develop new or modified cameras for this specialized application.

In 1939 Adolph Furer sold his interest to his son, Edward, who oriented the business toward the development and manufacture of special effects motion picture equipment. In 1949 the company name was changed to Producers Service Company. At that time the company had achieved Mr. Furer's primary objectives as a company that manufactured self-developed, proprietary products. The company's primary products were animation stands, optical printers, matte printers, process cameras, and related accessory and peripheral equipment.

In the late 1940's and early 1950's, because of the U.S. Government's emphasis on missiles as new weapons development, a requirement developed for high speed instrumentation cameras. Since the company had a history of building precision cameras, it was a natural progression to enter into this new field.

In 1952 Photo-Sonics, Inc. was formed to design, manufacture and distribute photo-optical instrumentation. About 1960 the companies were reorganized to better concentrate efforts toward photographic instrumentation equipment. Acme Camera Corporation, which manufactured special effects motion picture equipment, was transferred to Photo-Sonics, Inc. Producers Service Company whose sole activity then was the leasing of Acme equipment was sold. Producers Sales Corporation, which engaged in the distribution and sale of Acme equipment, was liquidated. Photo-Sonics, Inc., the sole remaining organization, continued to develop and manufacture high speed instrumentation cameras and associated systems.


Technical Academy Award© for the development of the Acme Optical Printer.

The company's expertise in this field was recognized in 1980 when the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences presented Photo-Sonics, Inc. a Technical Academy Award© for the development of the Acme Optical Printer. The award was presented to Acme Corporation (now Photo-Sonics, Inc.)


 © Academy of Motion Picture
 Arts and Sciences ©
 © A.M.P.A.S. ©                                                  

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In 1968 Photo-Sonics designed and manufactured the 35mm-4E camera which became an instant favorite for the production of high speed special effects for motion pictures and television commercials. Following the use of the 4E on the movie "Tora Tora Tora" Photo-Sonics began a  rental division specializing in high speed cameras and accessories.

Scientific and Engineering Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences© for the design of the 4ER 35mm High-Speed film camera.   In 1988, Photo-Sonics, Inc. was again awarded a Scientific and Engineering Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences© for the design of the 4ER 35mm High-Speed film camera. The award was presented to Mr. Roy Edwards and the Engineering Staff of Photo-Sonics, Inc.


 © Academy of Motion Picture
 Arts and Sciences ©
 © A.M.P.A.S. ©                                                  

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Small Business Administration recognized Photo-Sonics, Inc. for achievements in product development and service to its clientele. The award is for Prime Contractor of the Year for Region IX.


Photo-Sonics, Inc received its latest award in 2004 when the Small Business Administration recognized the company for achievements in product development and service to its clientele. The award is for Prime Contractor of the Year for Region IX. (Region IX consists of California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, and Guam.)

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  Today, Photo-Sonics, Inc. manufactures and distributes a complete line of photo-optical instrumentation that is used around the world for the test and evaluation of weapon systems, automotive crash testing, and of course high-speed photography for the entertainment industry (for films, commercials, music videos, documentaries), and many other applications. Products in the line-up include unmanned tracking mounts, digital cameras with superior image resolution, a scanner that allows for film-to-digital conversion, and tracking analysis software, long-recording digital cameras and airborne high-speed digital cameras, a trajectory tracker, ballistics cameras, optical tracking systems, motion analysis software, and HUD cameras and video systems.
Photo-Sonics, Inc. also offers equipment repair and refurbishment services.

The rental division continues to rent and lease our cameras for the production of
motion pictures and television commercials (credits listing). 

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Photo-Sonics, Inc. continues to operate at our facility in Burbank, California and in Thames, England.  

For a more detailed history of the company, please feel free to visit Photo-Sonics, Inc. milestones that are listed below.

1924 Adolf Furer purchases Acme Tool and Manufacturing, a small tool and die shop on San Fernando Road in Los Angeles.
1928 Walt and Roy Disney contract with the company to modify a Bell & Howell motion picture camera to provide stop motion capability for the production of animation.  
1930 Disney requests the company modify additional cameras for production of animation. Company elects to manufacture a proprietary camera rather than modify existing cameras. The first Acme Camera is designed and manufactured.  
1930 Company begins production of complete line of animation equipment including Acme Animation Stands, Acme Animation Boards, and Acme Cell Punches.  Click here to see the most prestigious user of Acme equipment.
1936 Company collaborates with Disney to produce the Multiplane Animation Stand used for the production of Snow White.
1939 Adolf Furer sells company to his son Edward Furer
1940 Company moves to Olive Avenue in Burbank in response to Disney’s relocation to the same town.  
1940 In collaboration with special effects pioneer, Linwood Dunn, company designs Acme Optical Printer for the production of motion picture special effects.
Photo-Sonics, Inc. receives
Oscar in 1980.  


Just prior to the start of the war, the company had commercial orders for several optical printers and animation stands. At the outbreak of war, production of commercial products were suspended.  All the products built for existing contracts were redirected to the war effort. Even the animation stands were shipped to the Signal Corps in Dayton, Ohio for the production of animated training films. The company survived the war by manufacturing airplane parts for a number of the aviation companies, including Lockheed located in Burbank.  
1946 Company designs and produces Kinescope Recording Camera for recording live television broadcasts. The majority of the systems were sold to the three major networks.  
1952 Photo-Sonics formed to design and manufacture photo-optical instrumentation.  
1954 Company wins major contracts from IBM and Goodyear for special film movements used in the bomb guidance and navigation system of the B-52 bomber.  
1954 Company designs 70mm-10A high-speed pin-registered camera (80 pictures per second).  
1956 Company designed and manufactured custom film printers for Universal, 20th Century-Fox, Cinerama, Todd-AO, Consolidated Film Industries, Pathe, Eastman Kodak, Rank Studios, Disney, Warner Brothers, Columbia Pictures, Hanna Barbera and many others.  
1957 Company designs 16mm-1B high-speed rotary prism camera for use at Hurricane Mesa Test Track in Utah (1000 pictures per second). 
1958 Company designs 35mm-4B high speed rotary prism camera for atomic tests in the South Pacific. This camera remains today the world’s fastest 35mm rotary prism camera (3200 pictures per second).  
1959 Company moves to new 40,000 square foot facility on Mariposa Street in Burbank.  
1960 Photo-Sonics wins Navy contract to provide technical support for San Clemente Island operations. Forty company employees support photographic, radar, communication and underwater activities.  
1960 Company develops 16mm-1F high-speed rotary prism camera to evaluate the separation of rocket stages (1000 pictures per second).  
1961 Company designs 70mm-10B high-speed rotary prism camera for atomic tests in the South Pacific. This camera remains today the world’s fastest 70mm rotary prism camera (360 pictures per second).  
1962 Company designs the 70mm-CFA streak camera for evaluating test items on high speed sleds (150 feet per second). Camera sees extensive use at Holloman AFB and China Lake NWC.  
1965 Company delivers the first Cine-Sextant Optical Tracking Mount to the U.S. Navy at Point Mugu. The Cine-Sextant was designed to replace modified gun turrets that were being used at that time to acquire optical data.  
1966 Company develops 16mm-1E miniature high-speed rotary prism camera to evaluate rocket stage separation (600 pictures per second).  
1966 Company employees working under contract for the Navy and using US Navy CCURV (Cable Controlled Underwater Recovery Vehicle) recovered a hydrogen bomb "lost" off Palomares, Spain.
For further information, please click on the following link:
1967 Company develops its first Mil-Std camera, the KB-19A, used extensively in Vietnam to document the effectiveness of ordnance dropped from fighter aircraft.  
1967 Company develops the 35mm-4E high-speed camera. It utilizes 4 register pins and 12 pull down pins and operates reliably at 360 pictures per second. It remains today the world’s fastest 35mm pin registered camera.  
1968 The 35mm-4E is used by 20th Century Fox for special effects of Tora, Tora, Tora. Company begins high-speed camera rental business. Eventually, hundreds of commercials and movies are shot with Photo-Sonics cameras.  
1968 The company rolls out the KB-21C, another documentary ordnance camera. A commercial version of this camera is designated the 16mm-1P. Because of its reliability and unique magazine-load configuration, the 1P and 1PL camera become the most successful high-speed camera in history with over 2000 units sold (500 pictures per second).  
1969 Company designs the worlds first magazine load 35mm high-speed camera. The 4ML is used extensively for flight test and launch area coverage. Several systems have been used on space shuttle to record experiments (200 pictures per second).
1970 Company wins competitive “shoot-out” at Nellis AFB and a contract for its KB-25A Gunsight cameras used on F-4 aircraft. Company eventually designs and produces 5000 Gunsight and HUD cameras for every fighter aircraft in the U.S. inventory with the exception of the F-15.
1970 Company designs 16mm-1PDL ActionMaster-500 camera documentary camera (500 pictures per second).  
1971 Company designs and delivers Mirror Mount Tracking Systems for the test and evaluation of the Sprint Missile System (2200 degrees per second per second acceleration)  
1971 Company forms Instrumentation Marketing Corporation (IMC) located in Burbank to distribute products manufactured by Photo-Sonics and others.  
1971 Company forms International Instrumentation Marketing Corporation (IIMC) located in Thames, UK to distribute and service Photo-Sonics products in Europe (later renamed Photo-Sonics International Limited).
1972 Company produces the 70mm-10R high-speed camera. The camera utilizes 4 register-pins and 12 pull-down pins. It remains today the world’s fastest 70mm pin registered camera (125 pictures per second).
1972 Company introduces 16mm-1VN, the world’s smallest 16mm high-speed camera.  
1972 Company designs and delivers the 16mm-1W, the fastest pin-registered film camera that ever was or ever will be (1000 pictures per second!).  
1974 Company receives contract to develop Airborne Ground Equipment for the KB-25 and KB-26 series of Gunsight cameras.  
1978 Company designs and deliveries the first of six Super Radot tracking mounts to the U.S. Army in the Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific. The Super Radot tracking mounts are used to track and evaluate the accuracy of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, re-entry vehicles, as well as other technologies. With the 240/480-inch focal length primary lens, the Super Radot is able to begin tracking targets as far away as 1600 miles down range.  
1978 Company awarded contract by the Israeli government to design and produce the Model 80 automatic film reader.  
1978 Company begins distribution of NAC SVCR Airborne Video Recorders. 1700 systems are eventually sold.  
1979 Company designs 70mm 14S hand-held camera with reflex viewing. The camera is capable of shooting up to 20 pictures per second.
1979 On August 14, 1979, a modified P-51D WWII Mustang fighter took to the sky and achieved a world air speed record of 499.018MPH. Photo-Sonics provided the cameras that were used for the four passes needed to calculate the averaged air speed for the record. The record held for 10 years. Read the story in Wikipedia here. Watch the video covering the day's events.
1980 Company wins Technical Academy Award (Oscar) for Acme Optical Printer.
1981 The 100th Cine-Sextant Tracking Mount is shipped to Hill AFB.
1984 Photo-Sonics, Inc. collaborates with NAC Corporation of Japan and designs 35mm-RR (Rotary-Registered) camera used for the transfer of High-Definition Video to 35mm film.  
1985 Photo-Sonics, Inc. designs the Compact Tracking Mount (CTM). The CTM is approximately half the size of the Cine-Sextant with the same accuracy and dynamic performance.  
1986 A new style of Cine-Sextant with high-powered elevation torque motors and solid-state power amplifier is designed.  
1987 Photo-Sonics, Inc. produces a high-resolution 100-inch lens for use on the Compact Tracking Mount and Cine-Sextant.  
1988 Photo-Sonics, Inc. receives Technical Academy Award for the design of the 35mm 4ER camera used for the production of high-speed special effects.
1995 The 70mm 10ML high-speed magazine-load is produced. The camera is capable of filming at a rate of 80 frames per second.
1996 Photo-Sonics, Inc. is awarded a contract for 450 video HUD cameras for installation on the A-10 attack aircraft. Development continues on designs for a complete line of video HUD cameras for most foreign and domestic fighter aircraft.   
1997 Company is awarded a contract to design 35mm-4CL phase lock camera for the test of the Patriot 3 missile at the White Sands Missile Range.  The 4CL is capable of 2000 frames per second while phased locked to within 20 degrees.  
1998 Company designs special housings for installation of the 16mm-1PL camera on the Space Shuttle. The camera systems are installed on all shuttles and used to document the separation of the external tank.
2000 Company to deliver Computer Automated Tracking System to the Italian Ministry of Defense for installation on the island of Sardinia.  
2004 Company selected by the Small Business Administration as the "Prime Contractor of the Year for Region IX"
2006 Development begins on the Nano-Sextant Compact Tracking Mount. The Nano-Sextant is a two-man lift tracking mount that wieghs in at only 140 for the main pedestal (unloaded). The specifications can be viewed on the Nano-Sextant Tracking Mount data sheet and web page.
2010 Development commences on the Mobile Multi-Spectral TSPI System (MMTS). The MMTS is a medium-duty tracking mount that is easily "trailered" from test location-to-location as needed. The system is optimized to automatically track and capture Time-Space-position-Information (TSPI) of the world’s fastest hypervelocity missiles and projectiles. Demonstration videos of the MMTS' capabilities are available for viewing on our web Video Gallery. You can also view the data sheet and MMTS web page.
2010 Photo-Sonics is awarded a contract to install an optical tracking system on the Navy’s new Self Defense Test Ship (SDTS). The U.S.S Paul F. Foster, plays a significant role in the Navy’s future. It is part of a program that has proven its efficiency by providing the most realistic combat scenarios for test events, while leaving ships and their Sailors available to the fleet to perform their normal duties. Please view this press release for more details. A demonstration video of the stablized tracking mount on the ship can be viewed on our Video Gallery. (Scroll about 2/3rds of the way down until you find the video title Tracking Stabilization - Self Defense Test Ship.)
2013 The F-16 Cockpit Camera (CCAM) is created. This camera is the latest in a long line of F-16 cameras and has excellent environmental characteristics incorporating superb image quality with high reliability ( >22,000 MTBF). The camera is lightweight and designed around single-unit construction. It is easily installed and aligned in the aircraft in less than one hour. For further information on this camera, please view the data sheet and the camera's web page.
2015 Photo-Sonics, Inc. celebrates 90 years in business!
2015 Photo-Sonics, Inc. moves to a new facility in Chatsworth, CA. The new building has roughly the same floor space area incorporated into a much newer facility. Take a look at the new location on our homepage.

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