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Todd-AO Equipment Catalog
Engineered by American Optical Company, Southbridge, USA

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Thomas Hauerslev. All captions in the Todd-AO Catalog are written by Brian O'Brien, Jr. in 1955 and 1997 and reproduced from the original sources by Anders M. Olsson, Sweden and Brian Guckian, Ireland.Date: 21.05.2014
Walter Siegmund and Brian O'Brien, Jr. in front of the American Optical Company Research Building where the Todd-AO process was developed.

In 1997 Willem Bouwmeester and I went to the United States for a Historical Wide Screen Gathering in Connecticut. I met Brian O'Brien, Jr. for the first time, when he picked us up at the airport in Hartford. A tall man with a healthy sense of humor, Brian O'Brien, Jr. was employed at American Optical Company during the development of the Todd-AO process 1952 - 1957. He was generally in charge of planning and development of motion picture production equipment.

I had contacted Brian some years before our first meeting and we corresponded back and forth about Todd-AO, a subject we both felt very passionate about. During the visit we were introduced to Walter Siegmund and John Davis who also worked on the Todd-AO process. Brian and Walt were our friendly hosts for 3-4 days, and with them we visited American Optical in Southbridge, Massachusetts. It was very moving for all, as this was their first visit in more than 30 years. When visiting Brian's house, he showed me a set of 6 ring-binders with a complete set of all things Todd-AO. Every single piece of Todd-AO equipment manufactured by American Optical company for the process between 1953-56. Brian had this catalog made when the entire range of equipment was ready for production of the first movie "Oklahoma!" in 1954. As he explained, it was a document to explain the equipment made for the Todd-AO Corporation.
More in 70mm reading:

Go to Todd-AO Catalog:
• Volume I
• Volume II
• Volume III
• Volume IV
• Volume V
• Volume VI
• Mark III Printer

• Todd-AO Birth date
• How Todd-AO Began
• Todd-AO Home
• Historical Wide Screen Gathering

• DP70 / Universal 70-35 / Norelco AAII - The Todd-AO Projector

• Description of Todd-AO Mark III Printer Principle

• "Oklahoma!" Printing Operation in the Todd-AO Mark III Printer 

• Todd-AO - Distortion Correcting Printing Process

Internet link:

5 volumes of American Optical company's catalog of all things Todd-AO. Every single piece of Todd-AO equipment manufactured for the motion picture process between 1953-56.

A few years later Walter Siegmund kindly sent me his set of ring binders as well as a few other rare pieces of Todd-AO equipment - including a 64 degree lens and a Bug Eye viewfinder. Unfortunately Walt's set was short of Volume #1. Brian later corrected that, by having his Vol #1 re-photographed on 35mm film for me. In his files Brian also found three envelopes of black and white stills of the Distortion Correction Mark III Printer when it was installed in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Brian kindly had 35mm negatives made of 50+ stills of the unique and long-gone printer too.

I have always wanted to add this Todd-AO catalog of equipment to the web site, but time and resource restrictions have prevented me from doing so. Until now. My only regret is that both Brian and Walt have passed away. I really wanted to do this much earlier, however, that has not been possible.

Each volume of the catalog ring binders had descriptions of the equipment. Where missing, Brian O'Brien, Jr. have produced additional captions and explanations for the remaining stills, including the printer. All his captions have been reproduced here from the original sources by Anders M. Olsson, Sweden and Brian Guckian, Ireland.

Hello Thomas, What a great section on your site!!! This is a great record of the depth of the undertaking of the Todd-AO process. GREAT JOB!!!!!!

Best Always,
Robert Weisgerber
65mm Todd-AO frame from 1953 with distortion correction with zero droop. The view of American Optical Company across the lake in Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA. The American Optical Research building  is seen to the left of the big building.

• Todd-AO Catalog, Volume I
Todd-AO projector DP70 | Slow start box | Bell & Howell EYEMO 35mm Camera with Todd-AO Baby Bug Eye lens

• Todd-AO Catalog, Volume II
"Bayonet" Camera | "Bayonet" Camera Blimp

• Todd-AO Catalog, Volume III
Camera Lenses | Camera Follow Finder | Camera Magazines

• Todd-AO Catalog, Volume IV
Camera Motors and Controls | Camera Tripods

• Todd-AO Catalog, Volume V
Synchronizing Machines | Film Edge Numbering Machines

• Todd-AO Catalog, Volume VI
Editing Machines | Film Rewinds | Splicers

• Todd-AO Catalog, Distortion Correction Printer, Mark III

All images are clickable to be able to enjoy a large version of the equipment.

Todd-AO Catalog Numbers
Most of the equipment in the 6 volumes had a Cat(alog) number. Listed here in numerical order

Front entrance to American Optical Research Center building in Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Cat. #00: Todd-AO High Speed Camera
Cat. #01: Todd-AO Camera
 | Todd-AO Camera Box | Todd-AO Bayonet Camera
Cat. #02: Todd-AO 128° "Bugeye" Lens
Cat. #04: 37° Bayonet Lens
 | Todd-AO 37° Camera Lens | Bayonet Lenses
Cat. #05: Todd-AO 48° Camera Lens
 | Bayonet Lenses with 48° Objectives  | Bayonet Lenses
Cat. #06: 64° Camera Objective, 64° Bayonet Lens
 | Todd-AO 64° Camera Lens | Bayonet Lenses
Cat. #08: Todd-AO High Torque Synchronous Camera Motor
Cat. #09: Camera Adapter Door
Cat. #10: Todd-AO Variable Speed Motor
Cat. #12: Todd-AO High Speed Camera Magazine
Cat. #13: Todd-AO Camera Magazines
Cat. #14: Wide-angle Follow Finder
 | Todd-AO Wide-angle Follow Finder
Cat. #15: 37°-48° Follow Finder Adapter
 | Todd-AO 37°-48° Finder Adapter
Cat. #16: 64° Adaptor, 64° Finder Adapter
Cat. #17: Todd-AO 128° Finder Adaptor
Cat. #18: Todd-AO Bayonet Camera Blimp
Cat. #21: Wide-angle Matte Box
 | Special Todd-AO Wide-angle Matte Box
Cat. #22: Filter Holder Box
Cat. #23: Todd-AO Hydraulic Camera Tripod
Cat. #24: Geared Pan & Tilt Head
 | Geared Tripod Head
Cat. #25: Standard Mitchell Tripod
Cat. #26: Standard Mitchell Baby Tripod
Cat. #27: Standard Mitchell High Hat
View of American Optical's machine shop, probably in Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Cat. #30: Todd-AO Soft Start Camera Motor Control Box
Cat. #41: "Bug eye" Carrying Case
Cat. #42: Todd-AO Bayonet Matte Box & Accessory Case
Cat. #44: Todd-AO Bayonet Lens Carrying Case
Cat. #47: Todd-AO Finder Carrying Case
Cat. #51: Todd-AO Editing Machine
Cat. #55: Todd-AO Edge Numbering Machine
Cat. #58: Todd-AO Edge Numbering Machine
Cat. #62: Negative Splicer
 | Todd-AO Treadle Splicer
Cat. #63: Positive Splicer
 | Todd-AO Treadle Splicer
Cat. #69: Todd-AO Timing Stand
Cat. #70: Todd-AO Editing Rewind
Cat. #72: Control Box
Cat. #74: Todd-AO Manual Rewind
Cat. #75: Todd-AO Synchronizing Bench Rewinds
Cat. #76: Todd-AO Synchronizing Bench Rewinds
Cat. #77: Todd-AO Synchronizing Bench Rewinds
Cat. #78: Todd-AO Enclosed Power Rewind
Cat. #79: Todd-AO Synchronizer, 2 x 4 with counter
Cat. #80: Todd-AO Synchronizer, 1 x 1 with counter
Cat. #81: Todd-AO Synchronizer, 1 x 2
Cat. #82: Todd-AO Synchronizer, 2 x 0
Cat. #83: Todd-AO Synchronizer, 1 x 2 with counter
Cat. #84: Todd-AO Synchronizer, 1 x 4 with counter
Cat. #85: Todd-AO Synchronizer, 1 x 6 with counter
Cat. #86: Todd-AO Synchronizer, 1 x 4 with counter
Cat. #87: Todd-AO Bench Splicer
Go: back - top - back issues - news index
Updated 21-01-24