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 Minolta Maxxum 7000 - 1985                    New! WidePhotoViewer for iPhone/iPod/iPad       
      

First 35mm SLR with in-body autofocus
First SLR with all-automatic film handling
$508 with f1.7 lens in 1985 ($1029 in 2010 dollars)
At first Minota crossed the X's in Maxxum, but then later changed when Exxon complained that they had that trademarked. Here's what the original looked like: Popular Photography, January 1988: Popular Photography, October 1985: Here's an article from the April 1985 issue of Popular Science: In 1987 Honeywell sued Minolta for infringing on three patents in its manufacturer of the Maxxum 5000, 7000, and 9000 cameras. The case went to trial in 1991, Honeywell won, and Honeywell received $127.5 million (including interest) from Minolta. In all, Honeywell held 80 patents associated with autofocus technology. For more details, see the article Patent Litigation and Its Relationship to Industry Structure and Competition in the Photographic Film and Camera Industry in the Stanford Technology Law Review (April 1998).

After the favorable Minolta decision, Honeywell also collected from Nikon, Asahi (Pentax), Canon, Olympus, Konica, and others for a total that exceeded $300 million. (Various web sites state that Honeywell won nearly a billion dollars from Minolta, but my information suggests that this figure is 8 times too high.)

All three patents, 3,860,935, 3,875,401, and 4,002,899, were awarded to Honeywell engineer Norman Stauffer (and assigned to Honeywell). I have more about him on the Konica C35AF page. Here are abstracts of the three patents:

 

 


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