CHALLENGE: Take A Picture Of The Oldest Surveillance Camera You Can Find

In my travels lately I've seen some really old cameras. I won't share my pictures just yet, but believe me, we're talking decades. So I figured we could have some fun with this.

Find the oldest (or oldest looking, as age is hard to determine definitively) installed surveillance camera you can. Take a picture. Post it.

It must be in the field. No digging through the junk in your basement or service stock.

$50 to the oldest/best.

Here is a camera we have still hanging although it is no longer functioning as we have upgraded all of our cameras.

So not just oldest IP cameras? We have some of the original AXIS cameras I could hang up.....

Actually I'd really like to see that. But no, doesn't have to be IP. It could use film, even.

here is an old sanyo

Wow that's beautifully 80s-looking.

yeah it looks even odder as the picture is rotated - that is the drop ceiling with it mounted to the grid on the left but it had that nice yellow stain of time on cheap white plastic and no bnc just a screw down terminal for the braid and then one for the center conductor

I got one, can't remember the make, still working (barely, won't focus anymore) box style camera in a huuuuge pan/tilt motor housing.

Old CCTV camera

I wish I had taken a picture of the insides...maybe if that guy finally decides to get it replaced I'll take some pics as I'm taking it down.

Daniel, that is an old Pelco ED28 "Harris Dome", so named after the designer who apparently put in many hours to design it. This was a popular model in the mid-90's, when box cameras were 6" to 8" long and the zoom lenses were even longer. That was also back when you had to order the right iris connector for your camera and would invariably burn your fingertips trying to solder the connector to those tiny, tiny wires. Nice find!

Hah, thank you for the info! I wasn't sure if I was ever going to go back to this place. The customer is apparently still fine with the unfocused image the camera is producing :P

I think the Pan/Tilt motor either stopped working a long time ago, or was forgotten about. It wasn't interfaced with a joystick or the DVR (which is much much new than the camera)

I'm not sure how old it is but I took this when we stopped at the gas station in the country a few months back. There were about three of them that I could see.

I saw a really ancient beast mounted up in a Wendy's a few years ago, looked to even be functional... can't find the picture now for the life of me.

Okay, here's one I saw on a gas station canopy several years back... looked old then, looks older now.  Not the droid I was looking for, but a good start :)


I like the strain relief on the open frame transformer, because, you know... safety first.

Oh yeah, can't have that falling down and bonking someone on the head...

for a few years, we used to buy Walmart's used surveillance cameras. This was in one of the loads we bought from them, 120 volt baby!! Im too young to even know type of connector.


These Koyo cameras were popular back in the late 1970s/early 1980s. That connector is a SO-239, and uses a PL-259 plug, which was very commonly used in two-way radio at the time.

You could connect a CB antenna to that connector :)

Look at this beautiful Axis 211...


This doesn't count as an entry because I found the image on the web:

My wife worked at a small family-owned bank that had these until at least 2001 when it sold to a big national firm.

I have no idea the frame rate or duration but they were activated by panic buttons on the teller line.

Do those have edge storage?? :)

That's really interesting. I wonder how you get the film out without exposing to light and ruining the whole strip?

We used a "dark bag" to remove the film and re-load the camera with a new roll. The dark bag was like a light-proof long-sleved shirt, with a zipper along the bottom part and elastic where the cuffs are. We would put the camera film magazine, and new can of film, into the dark bag and zip it closed. Then we would insert our arms into the cuffs to change the film; inside the dark bag. I did this when I worked with Diebold and then Mosler.

Film cameras of this type were commonly installed in banks and other financial institutions up until at least the late 1980s. The Bank Protection Act of 1968 required cameras, and the CCTV camera and recording technology at the time couldn't meet the need for the high-resolution images that could be produced by a 35MM film camera.

The cameras were tripped by the bank's hold-up alarm system, and once tripped, took a continuous stream of 35 MM still-frame pictures (probably at 2-3 FPS) until the film was exhausted. Some systems also had a "suspicion button" feature that would allow the teller to snap one or two frames when someone suspicious was in the bank. This feature was commonly used to take pictures of people trying to cash a stolen or forged check, etc.

The film in these cameras had to be removed and reinstalled by a qualified service technician. The technician would remove the film from the camera and replace it withe a new roll or cartridge. The film would then be taken away to be developed. The bank security systems market was dominated at the time by three major players (Diebold, Mosler, and LeFebure) and these companies made substantial RMR just in servicing these cameras. Keep in mind that everytime there was a false alarm, a film change was required. This added up to lots of service calls on a weekly basis in most metropolitan areas.

Here's some from our Museum..

Hitachi Lightfinder?

Replacement Tubes

My submission for old blinged out camera.

Wow. That one might not be the worst or oldest, but it is quite amazing.

Why that almost looks gold plated...haha

I love this thread. Always love learning how things were done "back in the day" for surveillance and security.

This is a great contest! What's the deadline?

Now that is comical Steve!

This customer had an old box camera that went out, so they found this video camera, plugged it in to an outlet, and used the RCA video output to connect it to the DVR. The image quality was fantastic.

Also note the 8 track tape that he still used, and the first edition Pepsi and Mt Dew cans...

Dustin, wow!

Is that real or is like the famous giant grasshopper photo :)

I swear that it is 100% legitmate, and fully functioning as it sits. That is what happens when you let maintenance workers to their own devices...

Hey, that's some ingenuity right there. At least they didn't go completely without video!

even has optional "Edge Storage"!


Yup. Would hate to see the regular size one.

For those wondering, we will probably shut this down this weekend and pick a winner. Which, in the case of these cameras, is a loser for whoever the end user is...

GE Camera

This is a working GE camera installed in a lift.

Can't put a date to it. But I think it is over decade old...

"But I think it is over decade old"

I think it's safe to say the guy who sold that camera probably *retired* well over a decade ago. I'll bet the guy installing it was looking forward to getting home in time to catch the weekly episode of "Dance Fever"...

Showboat Casino in Atlantic City had this gem:

Penn Station NYC had this one:

Found this one today...Decoy camera