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The Asahi Pentax Memorica prototype

By Dario Bonazza

Further to my previous article about Pentax prototypes (see Spotmatic No.15), here is some amazing additional information I was unaware at time of writing about that subject. The 1966 edition of Photokina took place between October 1st and 9th 1966 in Cologne, and was triumphant for Asahi. Alongside the already successful Spotmatic, they introduced the new Spotmatic Motor Drive, the infrared camera Nocta and some lenses we will discuss in a next article.

According to the November 1966 number of Foto Magazin – a German magazine also published in Italian for a while – Asahi had also several prototypes on display at that Photokina. One of them was the Asahi Pentax 220, two years later introduced to the world market as the 6x7. Another prototype was the Asahi Pentax Metalica II, the world’s first 35mm SLR to feature aperture priority TTL auto exposure. These are quite known matters, but the great news is Asahi also displayed the Asahi Pentax Memorica prototype, a shutter priority automatic SLR!

Both the Metalica and the Memorica had TTL meter featuring two CdS photocells, just like the Spotmatic. Both cameras also shared the same electronic shutter featuring speeds between 1 and 1/1000 sec. Unfortunately that magazine only published pictures of the 220 and the Metalica, hence we still have no idea of the Memorica look. I can only guess it had to be not that much different from the Metalica, since they shared major parts. It is very interesting to me to know that at that time Asahi pioneered both auto priorities. Then, when in 1971 they decided it was time to start mass production, they discarded shutter priority in favor of aperture priority. So nowadays we usually read that shutter priority was introduced by Konica in 1966 with their Autoreflex model (which was not TTL), followed by the TTL version Konica Autoreflex T in 1968.

Info sources: Foto Magazin, Italian edition, November 1966.

The original article was published on SPOTMATIC magazine #19, January 1999.

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