The Many Lives of the Norwood Director: Director Products and Brockway

The Director Products Era

Director Products era advertisementWith Bolex setting up its own distribution, and their own acquisition of the Norwood Director, American Bolex officially changed its name and product badging to Director Products around 1950. The meter now carried a revised nameplate as Type C.

To add to the confusion, they also produced a "Color-Matic" version, which was almost identical, also identified as "Type C." In 1954 the Color-Matic became the "Type D."

The Brockway Era

1955 ushered in a series of very rapid changes for the company. The first was that, for reasons unknown, "Director Products Corp" became "Brockway Director Corporation," reflecting the name of the owner; the meter was now co-branded "Brockway Director Corporation" and "Norwood Director".

They expanded the product lineup to include two new meters, so the "Type D" was renamed the "M2". True to form, the "M1" is not mentioned (that may have been the Flashrite that they sold), but the M-3 actually saw the light of day.

Norwood M-3The M-3 (it never got a catchy name) was a very unique looking meter, another ground-breaker in the way it looked. It was cylindrical with one tapered end and a small Photosphere on the other, so it resembled a cigar that had been cut in half. The meter needle was on the side near the sphere, and it had a clip like a pen; ads showed it being clipped onto a lapel or pocket, or on a shirt cuff so it could be used hands-free. It also used slides to vary the amount of light that struck the sensor, but the slides were not compatible with the M2.

This was meant to be a downscale version of the M2, simpler and less expensive, meant for amateurs who wanted an incident meter with direct reading. Most of the major manufacturers had at least one premium model (e.g. Weston's Master and GE's Guardian) and a simple model (e.g. Weston's Cadet and GE's Mascot), but the price difference may not have been enough. Equivalent meters from Weston and GE cost about $5 less than the M-3; meanwhile the high-end meters (like the M2 Director) cost about $10 more.

The last meter in the lineup was the Super Director, the final meter to be derived from a patent in Don Norwood's name. The "Super Director" is obviously an updated version. It retained all the key features and takes the same accessories as the previous Directors (photoshere, photodisc and photogrid), but it used a continuously variable grate to replace all the slides, so the user could simply adjust the grate (called a heliovalve) and direct read the dial at various film speed/shutter combinations, rather than keeping track of a set of slides. It was also quite a bit smaller. Given time, it might have established itself as the successor to the Director.

That brings us to around 1956, and we seque into

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