Yashica’s M42 screw mount 35mm SLR cameras were super successful and in some cases, groundbreaking. Yashica was known as a “Pioneer in Electronic Cameras” during the 1960s and 1970s with the TL Electro-X being the first electronically controlled SLR camera. My good friend and fellow Yashica collaborator Paul Sokk ( YashicaTlr.com ) and I have studied Yashica’s serial numbering system as it applies to their 35mm SLRs that used the universal M42 screw-in lens mount.
These dates represent the earliest finding of an individual model based solely on their serial numbers – not necessarily their release date. In some cases, the dates are still fluid as there is still the possibility of finding a stray in the wild that would prove an earlier production date.
Yashica often included a month and year in the first 3 or 4 digits of the camera’s serial number. By decoding these numbers Paul and I have come up with the following list.
- Penta J 6/1961
- Reflex 35 3/1962
- J-3 2/1963
- J-5 3/1964
- J-P 8/1964
- J-4 4/1965
- TL-Super 4/1966
- J-7 11/1966
- TL 11/1967
- TL Electro-X Type 1 10/1968
- TL Electro X Type 2 7/1969
- TL-E 6/1969
- ITS 12/1970
- TL-Electro 4/1972
- Electro AX 3/1972
- FFT 7/1973
In some cases, the dates are from cameras that appeared in sales brochures and user manuals. We have a high degree of confidence that these dates are correct and that they reflect a true chronology of these cameras as of this post.
Here’s an example of a Yashica serial number during this period –
(81200636) 8 = 1968, 12 = DEC, and 00636 = 636th made that month.
If you’ve found a camera that exists outside of these start dates, please feel free to let me know and if you have a serial number that you’re unable to decode send it my way. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks – Chris
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