What Ever Became of…Slide Projectors?


Camera technology has without a doubt come a long way in terms of cost and ease of use, opening up the ability for an average person to use a high quality camera to take basically unlimited pictures at a relatively low cost. No more are you limited by the amount of film you have, or your ability (or lack thereof) to do your own developing. Anybody can edit the pictures digitally, often now from the phone you used to snap the picture.

But at times we still get a hankering for a physical image to hold on to, and those have gotten easier to get as well. Home printers are able to print in photo quality, or images can be uploaded to websites for quick printing. One physical media that has all but disappeared though is the slide, and with it the slide projector. More than just these two tangible items, I would argue that some part of human interaction had been lost as well, and if you’ll follow me past the jump, I’ll see if I can explain.


I took the screenshot you see here a little while back for use as a STFSIWI item, but instead it got me thinking about the technology of slides. The whole system is relatively simple, but it is made for an audience. It isn’t like a photo album you can flip through, or click through on the facebook. If you ordered a set of slides, it meant you had documented some event worthy of showcasing, and you had a presentation, a slide show, in mind for future display. Your friends, or family, or both, would come and sit to watch and listen to the show.

Now, while it surely would be simple to make a power point of your last vacation, when was the last time you went and viewed such a show? When was the last time you shared a whole set of pictures with someone, other than just dumping them online and hoping someone looked? What ever happened to slides and slide projectors?


Images via, Craigslist, and

  • Slow_Joe_Crow

    I still have the 30 year old Kodak Carousel projector I bought in high school when i was more serious about photography, and a screen and a Kodak stack loader like in the first picture for handling loose slides. That said the last time I used was at least 5 or 6 years ago when I took it to my in-laws to show their slides from the 60s and early 70s that they had not seen in years. My take is that slide projectors are now more of a tool for historians and the occasional retro artist rather than an everyday item. I still appreciate the ritual involved in setting up in a darkened room but i suspect that the modern version involves a digital projector and a PC.

  • Wolfie

    I never used slides,but bought a box at a yard sale 20 years ago. It was a collection of images of old movie theaters from 1930's taken at night and very well done.They made a great slideshow.

    • On the subject of slideshows that aren't mine, I have an interesting set that was used as part of someone's lecture at a technical college. It's a thirty slide presentation by M. J. Shogren entitled "Hammers: Their use in sheet metal work." They're nice glass slides in a wood storage box. I've been meaning to digitize them.

      • CaptianNemo2001

        The emulsion will eventually flake and wear off if they are touching or exposed to sunlight. So you have to store them vertically and separated. Learned all that when reading about the Mathew Brady collection of Civil War plates/photos.

        • The box does keep them vertical and separated. I think these were actually made by sandwiching film between two layers of glass, but I'd have to dismantle one to be sure.

          • CaptianNemo2001

            It should be on the glass. That's why you cant touch them.
            What Mathew Brady would likely have used.
            Slightly older.

          • Slow_Joe_Crow

            I think what Stu_Rock has are old style glass slide mounts which have a piece of standard slide film sandwiched between two pieces of glass rather than old-fashioned glass plates. Glass mounts protect the film, unlike the more common cardboard or plastic mounts so they make sense for heavily used presentations.

          • CaptianNemo2001

            Ahh that makes more sense now. I had forgotten about those…

  • CaptianNemo2001

    We got a bucket load of slides, holders and about 3 projectors once in the local thrift shot… took ages to get rid of all of it. Each holder was FULL of slides of somebody's trip/trips. Must have been 15-20 holders of slides… Way way way too many slides for me.

  • Does anyone remember straight slide tray projectors like this?
    <img src=""&gt;
    My parents used to have one. When I was in college, a physics professor was always looking for trays at garage sales and thrift shops. He would run them through the band saw in order to make low-cost plate mounts for optical breadboards. I gave him my family's supply of trays, which probably lasted him for the rest of his career.

    • CaptianNemo2001

      Had to look up "optical breadboards" didn't realize that the pegboard tables had a special name. I apologize in advance for bastardizing the table. =) But more seriously I really didn't know they had a name…

  • CaptianNemo2001

    <img src="; width="600">

    • FuzzyPlushroom

      I don't know how I never put it together that Endermen are holding blocks that they couldn't get past. Somehow I just thought they picked 'em up for fun.

  • We still have a few slide projectors in our department, along with a few faculty members who use them. Our policy is to keep them as long as there's the possibility of a demand, but to do no repairs beyond bulb replacement.

  • OA5599

    "If you ordered a set of slides, it meant you had documented some event worthy of showcasing, and you had a presentation, a slide show, in mind for future display."

    From what I remember, it was cheaper to buy slide film, shoot your pictures, and process them as slides than it was to get a regular roll of film and process as prints. So having slides could mean more important, but could also mean cheapskate.

    • Slow_Joe_Crow

      It was also the mark of a more serious color photographer. Slide film had more accurate rendition and better exposure control since you weren't at the mercy of the printer, plus you got a viewable positive that you could make prints from if it was really good. Actually Cibachrome (probably worth an AT post itself) was more archivally stable than normal color photographic paper as well as giving excellent quality prints .

    • I'm pretty sure the cheapskate reason is why most of my family's pictures from the 1960s to the 1980s are on slides, that only rarely got developed. When I got into photography in high school I remember going around and getting all the undeveloped film in the house developed. I got to see the slightly deteriorated prints from my trip to EPCOT in second grade. I also had prints made from some of my Dad's old slide from the 1960s.

  • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

    [youtube 4amRqT6hGZU youtube]

    I miss the TONE/kachunk from my school days.