June 2007 Archives

Bruce and Winston have plastic balls

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When it comes to making things happen no one did it better than my brothers. Bruce was a real life Macgyver when it came to making things in shop class, and Winston never once took 'NO' for an answer, even if he was wrong. My brothers were two of the hardest working people I had ever know. The only person that worked harder was our dad. Working as a logger well into his 80s, the man didn't stop working until the day he died. 

After Bruce and Winston got the idea to make a plastic molded camera they worked 18hr days until they figured it out. They had a small cabin on the river that they used as their studio, and from dawn til dusk they would spend the day creating plastic sculptures, photographs, and paintings. In November of 1982 they would finally make a mold for the Hipstamatic A1 lens. By the end of the month they had made their first 5 Hipstamatic 100s. Locally everyone knew them as the "Crazy Hippies on the Lake," but that did stop the local newspaper from writing a short article on them and the Hipstamatic. (Unfortunately the collection of works and archives of my brothers' Hipstamatic adventure were destroyed in a house fire in 1993.)  

The view from the Cabin.

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Hipstamatic History

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Founders: Bruce and Winston Dorbowski
Founded: November 1982 (Unofficially, as in no lawyers)
Location: Merrill, Wisconsin, USA

The Idea:
 Bring people a camera that cost less than the film. Bruce had a Russian plastic camera that our father gave him as a Christmas gift in 1972. The camera had since broke and was no longer being made or sold, at least anywhere he could find it. So Bruce and Winston came up with a plan to recreate something similar. Winston had fallen in love with his Kodak Instamatic and that was the start of the Hipstamatic.

Camera Specs
Model: 100
Material: Plastic Body, Plastic Lens
Produced: 1982-84
Type: View finder camera
Lens: Hipsta A1
Film: 35mm
Picture Size: 28mm x 28mm
Original Cost: $8.25
Focus: Automatic 
Aperture: 2.8
Flash: hot shoe

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25 Years Later...

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In the summer of 1984 my two little brothers, Bruce and Winston were struck by a drunk driver at 4:13 PM June 21st on HWY 17 between Merrill and Wausau, WI. That day forever changed my life. I am setting up this website as a way to remember my brothers and the passion they had for art, photography, and their ability to make things happen.


Just two years earlier, Bruce and Winston had been attending Art school part time and had come up with what they thought was a million dollar idea for bringing photographic art to the masses cheaply. In the winter of 1982 they had developed a camera that was made entirely of plastic, including the lens. They molded and manufactured the camera under the name Hipstamatic out of their 650 sq ft river front cabin on the waters of the mighty Wisconsin. We all referred to the molding area as the 'Animal Room' because the smell reminded us of burning rubber and roadkill.

The Hipstamatic was born out of a love of the Kodak Instamatic and a desire to make it something even children could afford on a small allowance. My brother Bruce once said, "It doesn't matter if the photos aren't prefect -- as long as people are capturing memories I will be happy." At the time I didn't agree, but now in my fifties I finally understand what he was talking about.

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Richard Dorbowski

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