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Bell & howell (Bell-Howell) – one of the world’s largest film manufacturers throughout the 20th century. Branches of the company were located not only in the USA, but also in Germany, Great Britain, France, Canada and Sweden. The firm was founded in Wheeling, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois in 1907 by two projectionists Donald Bell (Donald joseph bell) and Albert Howell (Albert summers howell). The company is currently headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, and provides document processing services, including microfilm.CinematographyBell-Howell was a pioneer of film standardization, and his punching machines ensured the compatibility of all prints, first within the United States and then around the world. Perforation BH 1866, used in modern negative and countertypical 35mm films, was proposed by the company in 1916, and still bears its name, remaining the global standard. For a long time, the company remained an almost world monopoly in the field of punching photographic materials, and even at the Svema and Tasma factories in the USSR, Bell-Howell machines were used for this. The same can be said about the film-copying equipment supplied by the company to all countries of the world with a developed film industry.Filming apparatus Bell & Howell 2709 laid the foundation for the „American" direction of cinematography, defining the design of cinematographic cameras for decades to come. The camera, for the first time in the world, was all-metal with rounded shapes, which contrasted with the wooden boxes from Europe. The double external cassette gave the device a profile, nicknamed in America „Mickey Mouse ears", more than the „burglar box" of European Pathé and Parvo cameras. Also for the first time, the lenses were mounted on a swivel turret, which allows them to be quickly changed. The main innovation, however, is the through-sight and precise focusing on the sliding frosted glass. For this, the camera body, together with the cassette, could move along the base guide across the optical axis of the fixed lens. In the extreme left position opposite the working lens there was frosted glass with a magnifying glass, which served for framing and precise focusing. After that, the body moved back to the right, bringing a frame window with film to the lens. Prior to this, all cameras were focused on the meter scale, without guaranteeing sharpness. In the French chamber Debrie Parvo, such an opportunity appeared only in 1924. Another of the most important advantages of the 2709 for cinematography was the world’s first counter grab, which dramatically increased the stability of the film during exposure. In addition, the device of the tape path made it possible to simultaneously charge two films, making possible the previously inaccessible methods of combined shooting in the „bipack" technique. This camera is the first to implement early wandering mask and color cinematography technologies.The camera was very complicated for its time, and so expensive that only film studios could buy it. Only four people owned the device privately, one of whom was . However, by 1919 all Hollywood studios were working exclusively with Bell-Howell cameras. Despite the rapid progress in cinematography, the 2709 did not lose its relevance for several decades, being released until 1957. Even the onset of the era of sound cinematography did not affect the popularity of the camera: its manual drive was easily replaced by an electric motor for synchronous shooting. Another iconic Bell-Howell camera captured several wars, it proved to be the most reliable and compact handheld 35mm professional film camera of its time. In 1925, the production of the Aimo apparatus with a spring drive, intended for filming newsreels, was launched. The design was so successful that it was copied in many countries, including the USSR under the names „KS-4" and „KS-5".Other productsDuring the Second World War, the need for film technology fell sharply, but the company established the supply of photo machine guns to the US Air Force. After the war, narrow-film amateur cinema equipment was in demand on the market, and the production of 8-mm and 16-mm film cameras and film projectors began. The Filmosound family of cinema sound projectors has dominated the American market for decades. In addition to these products, the production of medium-format overhead projectors 6 × 6 centimeters, filmoscopes for 35-mm filmstrips and several models of overhead projectors was launched. All this was supplied to educational institutions by a separate division of the Bell & Howell Education Group. In 1979, the division branded a batch of Apple II Plus computers specially modified for educational purposes. From 1961 to 1976, within the framework of a partnership with the Japanese company Canon, part of the latter was produced for the US market with the Bell & Howell logo.In the 2000s, the firm decided to focus on information technology and in 2001 sold its entire film and photography business to Eastman Kodak. Post office sold to Pitney Bowes. At the same time Bell & Howell was renamed ProQuest. After some time, the remnants of the factories bearing the name Bell & Howell were bought by Glencoe Capital, which soon merged with the American branch of Böwe Systec. Until 2011, the formed conglomerate was called Böwe Bell + Howelland was resold to Boston’s WestView Capital Partners in 2018.


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