GoPro HERO Camera

Nick Woodman and GoPro, Inc.
September 2004

The GoPro HERO "All-Season Sports Camera" was the first model released by the eponymous action camera company. It was a 35mm film camera, weighed less than half a pound, and could function underwater.

Founder Nick Woodman was inspired to create this line of cameras due to his own passion for surfing, and his first successful product was called the Ultimate Strap, which efficiently secured non-reusable waterproof cameras to one's wrist so that quality images of surfers in action were made possible. However, he then began working toward developing a reusable camera — ideally, one that was inexpensive to produce and lightweight enough to be useful as an action camera. In 2004, Woodman met with a Chinese camera manufacturing company at a camera trade show that proved capable of producing the model of camera he required. With an initial investment of $5,000, he partnered with the Shenzhen-based company to produce 35mm cameras that were effectively waterproof and cost only $3 per camera to produce, which he later sold for $20 each.

The camera came loaded with 24 exposures of ASA film. It could function up to 15 feet underwater. The body of the camera consists of a 28mm focus-free lens, an eye-level optical view finder, and a film compartment where users can remove and reload film. It requires no batteries or electrical charging to operate, and much like disposable cameras, it requires users to turn a wheel to rotate to a new exposure after each photo is taken.

After the initial investment run, the HERO camera went on to premiere at the San Diego Action Sports Retailer trade show in September 2004 and was made available commercially the following year. This was one of the earliest models of action cameras made available for amateur photographers that was specifically marketed for its usability for capturing sports images. Early marketing concentrated heavily on its use for surfing and other watersports, which Woodman himself entirely attributes his commitment to the project's development:

"If I didn’t follow my passion for surfing, I would’ve never had the idea for GoPro" (Zach).

In 2006, GoPro began releasing a line of Digital HERO cameras that were much more commercially successful.

"Woodman soon realized that his camera was just as good on land as in the water. Quickly branching out to action sports including mountain biking and skiing, GoPro’s sales increased as the company found new verticals" (Mac).

Mac, Ryan. “GoPro Evolution: From 35mm Film To America's Fastest-Growing Camera Company.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 4 Mar. 2013. Web.

Mac, Ryan. “The Mad Billionaire Behind GoPro: The World's Hottest Camera Company.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 4 May 2013. Web.

"Company Q&A: GoPro with Founder/Inventor Nick Woodman." Malakye,, 5 Jan. 2010. Web.

Zach. "First ever GoPro camera – Hero 35 mm – Full story."Pevly,, 16 Jan. 2016. Web.