While the View-Master didn’t really take off until the 1940s, it was introduced at the World’s Fair in 1939 and thus makes it into our 1930s category.
The View-Master was invented by Wilhelm Gruber to replace, or at least compliment, the every day postcard. It was met with moderately good reception.
The US Army realized that the View-Master could help train troops, so they ordered hundreds of thousands of them. This money gave Sawyer’s what they needed to dominate the View-Master market for the next 40 years.
They were also very popular for the troops to use instead of magazines, if you know what I mean. Check out one of the ads below, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Shortly after 1950, Sawyer’s bought Tru-Vue, the other competitor (see pic below), and with it got the rights to Disney’s stuff.
This allowed Sawyer’s to capitalize on the Disney boom in the 1950s and the rest is history.
You probably have one of these somewhere in your house, but I bet you don’t have one of the originals pictured below!