MINOX Milestones

Foundation of MINOX GmbH Wetzlar. In the following years, the design of the MINOX camera was further optimized. The cigar manufacturer Rinn & Cloos (R&C) in Heuchelheim Germany was brought on board as a financially strong partner. At the end of 1948, the company moved to the newly established production facilities in Heuchelheim near Giessen. With the MINOX A, the first MINOX miniature cameras were manufactured after the war.

The MINOX miniature camera is experiencing a steady upward trend. In 1951, MINOX already had 180 employees. Hundreds of photo dealers had their employees trained in the MINOX system during factory training courses. MINOX found its way into leading specialist stores in Germany and abroad. MINOX was one of the few camera manufacturers to produce all parts themselves - from shutter to optics. Well over 1,000 work processes were required to produce the many individual parts. By 1955 the number of employees had grown to 560 precision mechanics, opticians, engineers and merchants. Interested customers often had to wait weeks or months for their MINOX. The biggest success was achieved with the MINOX B, the improved successor to the MINOX A. The MINOX B became a bestseller during its 14-year production period.

The electronic age began at MINOX with the C-model at a remarkably early stage. The MINOX C was the first camera of its kind with electronic exposure control. It was the first snapshot camera to achieve extraordinarily good sales results.

At the Photokina 1974, the MINOX 35 EL was presented as the smallest 35 mm camera and deliveries began in spring 1975. The success of the compact model with automatic exposure and a retractable, four-lens quality objective lens was overwhelming. The camera sold so well, that MINOX was hardly able to meet the demand for years.

In the following years, both the compact and the miniature cameras underwent consistent developments and were subjected to model upgrades. However, the competition in the sector of compact viewfinder cameras grew steadily. The Japanese entered the market with electronic products. In addition, the falling level of prices, combined with high production costs in Germany and the falling dollar all had a negative impact on sales figures.

From 1981, MINOX ran into increasing difficulties. A quarter of the original 750 employees had to be made redundant. Nevertheless, a settlement request had to be filed with the District Court in Giessen on November 21, 1988. Under the direction of the receivership administration, the workforce was reduced to just under 300, and a number of extensive measures were implemented.

Freed from these burdens, the course was set for a better future. MINOX GmbH continued production and was taken over by the Leica Camera Group as an independent company on April 1, 1996. The business administration is transferred to a young management team. On April 1, 2001, the new MINOX managing director Thorsten Kortemeier takes over the company as part of a management buyout.

Thanks to a high degree of flexibility, the new MINOX GmbH, which had separated from its co-shareholder Leica Camera AG in 2005 and became 100 percent independent, was also able to systematically expand its activities and thus its earnings.

Although MINOX has primarily been known as the manufacturer of the famous spy cameras, MINOX is now focussing primarily on new product lines such as binoculars, spotting scopes, hunting scopes, wildlife cameras and night vision devices.

MINOX and the scope specialist Optronika from Biebertal form an alliance with the participation of the L&O Group (later Blaser Group). German Sports Optics GSO is the new company founded in the course of the alliance and is responsible for the development, design and manufacture of MINOX long-range optics and various other products. MINOX GmbH will continue to be managed within GSO as an independent company, but with an emphasis on photography, nature observation, hunting and nautical products.

MINOX will relocate to Isny (Allgäu) Germany, on February 1, 2020. MINOX has been part of the Blaser Group since 2013, which is also based in Isny. The bundling of competencies and the intensive exchange between optics specialists and the hunting experts at Mauser and Sauer & Sohn in one location will create completely new synergies that will benefit the joint customers. In this way, new products can be developed faster and even more precisely.