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Home /Entertainment / How Does A Slide Viewer Work?

How Does A Slide Viewer Work?

By Mollee Shannon

In the golden era of family fun, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents would gather in the family room to view vacation slides, wedding photos, and school plays.

The slide projector became a household item in the 1950s and remained the preferred form for showing slides until prints took over the market.
While the slide projector was an ordinary household item, just like a blender or toaster, the science behind how the slide projector works is quite extraordinary. 


Hit Me With the Tech Specs 

Slide Projectors need some basic components to operate. 

  1. Electric incandescent lightbulb to light the slide 
  2. Reflector and condensing lens to direct the light to the slide 
  3. Slide holder, you remember those old carousels 
  4. Focusing lens to bring the slide’s image into focus 

Slide Show Time!

Maybe you had an official screen on an easel that you could roll out during slide show time, or maybe you hung one of Mom’s white sheets on the wall. Either way, bringing out the slide projector was a fun family activity, as long as you weren’t looking at the slides from your uncle’s fishing trip to the Great Lakes for the millionth time! Ready or not, here we go!

Turning on the projector activates the incandescent lightbulb, which lights the slide so the human eye can make out the images on the slide. Most slide projectors included a piece of heat-absorbing glass situated between the light bulb and slide to protect the slide from heat damage. You definitely don’t want that slide of your uncle holding up a 15-inch fishing trophy to melt away!

A reflector, often a mirror in early models, would channel the light and the slide’s image through the convex lens. The convex lens would then enlarge the slide onto the viewing screen (or sheet, depending on what you had around the house!) for everyone’s viewing pleasure! The spring mechanism in the slide projector would then advance the slides throughout the slideshow. Who wouldn’t want to see an entire slide show of grandma and grandpa’s trip to the grand canyon, slide after slide of rocks and dust? 


Viewing Slides in the Modern Age 

It’s hard to find those old slide projectors these days, even at a local thrift store! If you have slides from family trips, weddings, or other memorable life events, you might be doing too much work, holding those up to the light to see the images, but you don’t have to crane your neck to see your family memories. Luckily, KODAK Digitizing Box can take those slides and turn them into digital photos! The process is simple and easy, and an added bonus? It’s no pain in the neck!

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