The Hasselblad name dates to 1841, when F.W. Hasselblad & Co. was established as an importing business in the highly trafficked port town of Gothenburg, Sweden. Years later, Victor Hasselblad, the great-grandson of the company’s founder, became an apprentice in the optical production industry in Dresden, Germany.
During World War II, Victor was approached by the Swedish government to produce a camera identical to one recovered from German forces, and soon had his own small factory producing military cameras. After the war ended, Hasselblad manufactured its first civilian camera, the medium format 1600F. Its name indicated the highest aperture speed setting (1/1600th) and shutter type (focal-plane), a classification system Hasselblad continued to use throughout its history.
Though these first cameras were critically acclaimed, their interior mechanisms were delicate and broke easily. The 1000F of 1952 fared much better, receiving a rave review from the influential American magazine "Modern Photography."
In 1957, Hasselblad began distributing a new 500C model, the design that would form the backbone of the company’s product line for the next 40 years. In addition to greater reliability than Hasselblad’s earlier models, the 500C included flash sync at all speeds, a shutter in every lens, and compatibility with eminent Zeiss lenses. The 500C quickly dominated other medium-format competitors.
Hasselblad cameras were some of the earliest into space, and have been taken aboard every NASA mission since 1962. The motor-driven Hasselblad 500EL/70 was used by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Jr., forever preserving the first images of man on the moon.