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About Adolph Gasser
Adolph Gasser graduated from high school just before the Great Depression began in 1930. He landed a job as a repairman in a camera shop in San Francisco where he learned to customize and repair photo equipment.
Mr. Gasser quickly gained a reputation as a skilled technician. In 1936, he opened General Camera Repair, his first business, where he met Ansel Adams and Imogen Cunningham. Mr. Gasser and Mr. Adams became close friends over the years. So much so, that in 1965, Adams was best man at Mr. Gasser’s wedding, held at Adams' home in Carmel.
Mr. Gasser enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943, serving with the Photo Division of the 509th Composite Group from Wendover, Utah. While stationed on Tinian Island in the Pacific Ocean, Mr. Gasser loaded and maintained aerial cameras on B-29 bombers. The cameras would not work in the cold temperatures that exist at high altitudes. Mr. Gasser solved that technical problem, and the cameras captured images of bombs dropping on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Mr. Gasser also gave a K20 Aerial camera to the tail gunner to take photographs of the explosions as the plane was flying back to the island.
After the war, Mr. Gasser retained ownership of General Camera Repair and became a technical consultant for Nikon Corp. in Japan. He helped Nikon solve a number of technical problems and eventually held patents for "sync systems" that enabled a camera's flash and shutter to operate simultaneously.
Throughout his career, Mr. Gasser used his camera expertise to create specialized equipment. He designed an enlarger for Ansel Adams. In 1948, he engineered and built a camera known as the "Big Eye" for the San Francisco News, which was used for taking photographs at sporting events.
In 1950, Mr. Gasser opened the Hobby Center, a retail shop that sold model trains and airplanes as well as camera and art supplies. That business later became Adolph Gasser Photography, which has operated continuously at 181 Second Street in downtown San Francisco since 1976.
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