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Anatol M. Josepho, an immigrant from Siberia who invented the photo booth (“Photomaton”) in 1925, was born in Omsk on this date in 1894. Josepho was a photographer who went to Berlin at age 15, New York at 18, and Shanghai in his mid-twenties. His “Photomaton” debuted in September, 1925 at 1659 Broadway, between 51st and 52nd Streets in Manhattan, and charged 25¢ for a strip of eight photos, which were developed in eight minutes. “[A]s many as 7,500 people a day . . . would line up to have their photos taken,” writes Näkki Goranin in The Telegraph, and “the place came to be known as ‘Broadway’s greatest quarter-snatcher.’ The New York governor and a senator were among those waiting for the fun of the automatic photo strip. A white-gloved attendant would guide people to the booth and, once inside, direct them to ‘look to the right, look to the left, look at the camera.’ ” In 1927, Josepho sold the patent to his invention to a group led by Henry Morgenthau for $1 million.
“While I was in China, in 1921, I drew rough plans for the invention. I decided to come to America and hunt for backers. I landed at Seattle. It struck me that I ought to go to Hollywood and get motion picture experience. I went there, got the experience I needed, and then came east. I had relatives in New York City. With their aid, and that of friends, I raised what I needed to produce the first model. For that purpose, I raised $11,000. Incidentally, I may say that those who loaned me the money for an interest in the invention have been well repaid for taking a chance.” —Anatol Josepho