Walter Zapp

Inventor of the MINOX Sub-Miniature Camera 

Inventor of a camera smaller than a cigar and weighing less than a cigarette lighter. Walter Zapp's wealth of ideas and a sheer untiring creative energy later led to the creation of a large number of precision optical instruments, and their mental father went down in history as one of the great visionaries and pioneers of photographic technology.

World Innovation Spy Camera


Born on September 4 in Riga (Latvia)


Walter Zapp created the prototype of a camera smaller than a cigar and weighing less than a cigarette lighter - a stroke of a genius with long-term effects! With the construction of the MINOX, which became famous all over the world as a spy camera, Zapp also laid the foundation stone for the establishment of the traditional company bearing the same name.

With the construction of the tiny Ur-MINOX, the young engineer Walter Zapp succeeded in realizing a great dream - the miniaturization of a photographic camera. Despite its extremely small dimensions - the MINOX was able to disappear effortlessly into a closed fist - the fully functional prototype already delivered photographic results of outstanding quality.


This camera was developed into a revised version, which later became known as the so-called Riga MINOX, named after the capital of Latvia. The state electrical appliance factory VEF began production and brought this series to the world market on April 12th 1938, which was coincidentally the 100th year of photography. The popular 8x11 mm negative format was born.


In March 1941, Walter Zapp fled to the West. With a bit of luck he reached Germany, with the Ur-MINOX, the Riga MINOX (the first production model) and the wooden model in his pocket. By the time production had ceased, a total of around 17,500 sub-miniature cameras had left the factory.


Walter Zapp left the MINOX plant after considerable differences with Rinn & Cloos.


Walter Zapp was offered a contract as a MINOX engineer, which brought employment to the famous founder of the MINOX brand, until his death on 17.07.2003 - tantamount to a reconciling turning point in his extremely eventful life.


Died on July 17 in Binningen (Switzerland).