The 135 film size is derived from earlier still cameras using lengths of 35 mm cine film, the same size as, but with different perforations than, 135 film. The 35 mm film standard for motion picture film was established in Thomas Edison's lab by William Kennedy Laurie Dickson. Dickson took 70 mm film stock supplied by George Eastman's Eastman Kodak Company. The 70 mm film was cut lengthwise into two equal width (35 mm) strips, spliced together end to end, and then perforated along both edges. The original picture size was 18 x 24 mm (half the full frame size later used in still photography). There were four perforations on each side of a motion picture frame.
While the Leica camera popularized the format, several 35 mm still cameras used perforated movie film before the Leica was introduced in the 1920s. The first patent for one was issued to Leo, Audobard and Baradat in England in 1908. The first full-scale production camera was the Homeos, a stereo camera, produced by Jules Richard in 1913, and was sold until 1920. It took 18x24 mm stereo pairs, using two Tessar lenses.
The first big-selling 35 mm still camera was the American Tourist Multiple, which also appeared in 1913, at a cost of $175 (at today's prices, the same cost as a modern $3000 Leica.) The first camera to take full-frame 24x36 mm exposures seems to be the Simplex, introduced in the U.S. in 1914. It took either 800 half-frame or 400 full-frame shots on 50 ft (15.2 m) rolls.
The Minigraph, by Levy-Roth of Berlin, another half-frame small camera was sold in Germany in 1915. The patent for the Debrie Sept camera, a combination 35 mm still and movie camera was issued in 1918; the camera sold from 1922.
The Furet camera made and sold in France in 1923 took full-frame 24x36 mm negatives, and was the first cheap small 35 mm camera of similar appearance to more modern models.
Here's a list of early 35mm cameras from the 1910's.
Jens Poul Andersen (Model: 35 mm camera - 1905. Made in Denmark)
This one of the four 35 mm cameras built in 1905 by Jens Poul Andersen in Nellerod, Denmark: The simple lens on the 1905 Andersen 35 mm camera consists of two plano-convex lens elements mounted in a brass barrel with provision for four fixed aperture settings of f/5, f/8, f/10 and f/15. The guillotine shutter provides a single shutter speed of 1/100 sec. The camera body is made of mahogany wood and has the shape of a flat box (somewhat like a brick) with the dimensions of 208 x 45 x 85 mm. The camera weighs 500 grams. It accepts a maximun of 20 m of perforated 35 mm film, enough for apprximately 300 exposures. The format is 24 x 60 mm.
(Courtesy for text and picture Mr. Rolf Fricke.)
Ambrosio Torino (Model: 35 mm camera - 1905. Made in Italy)
The Ambrosio camera would not hold much interest if it was probably the first camera to use 35 mm film, the body is cast aluminium with an oxidized silver plated brass cover. The lens is removable. It is a 50 mm Zeiss-Kraus anastigmat with an iris diaphragm. The guillotine shutter is tensioned on the front and has only one speed and B. The camera is designed for 100 frames 45mm x 30mm on unperforated cine film with a sensor counter. At that time the makers of film left it to the user to perforate his own film according to his own preference, Lumiere or Edison. A very original mechanism monitors the progress of the film. A mini punch cuts out a small hole on the edge of the film in the middle of the frame. A small spring loaded plunger in advance of the film snaps into the hole stopping the advance of the film. The only other known camera bears the inscription "Ambrosio Torino" and the number 14 and has a Reichert lens.
(Courtesy for text and picture Mr. Arnaud SAUDAX.)
George P.Smith (Model: Smith - 1912. Made in USA)
Really rare US camera made in Missouri. First with 24x36 format.
Herbert & Huesgen, New Ideas Mfg. Co. (Model: Tourist Multiple -1913. Made in USA)
Vertically styled body, leather covered, Tourist Multiple became the first commercially produced 35mm camera to be sold (although it had been on the market sometime toward the end of 1913), probably about 1000 cameras were ever made (McKeown, 1994). It contained a 50 foot magazine with enough film for 750 half frame exposures 18x24mm, shutter 40 - 200. There was also a multiple projector (film strip) available for $100.00.
Jules Richard (Model: Homeos - 1914. Made in France)
The first 35mm camera was the "Homeos" (1913) a year before Oskar Barnack's "UR" prototype. And it was 1925 before the first production Leica hit the market, fixed focus, diapphragm: f/4.5, f/6.3, f/8, f/10 e f/20.
Multi-Speed-New York (Model: Simplex - 1914. Made in USA)
Multi-exposure, multi-speed shutter Compound 00, 1/300, 800 exposures 18x24. The rarest pre-Leica and the most valuable today is the Simplex Multi-Exposure 35mm camera... Five, possibly six are known.
Schoenander (Model: Schoenander - ?. Made in Sweden)
Special 35mm camera for 375 pictures 24x24mm on 9m special cassetes. A very interesting characteristic is its ringing bell sound at each picture taken.
Ernst Leitz (Model: UR Leica - 1914. Made in Germany)
Oskar Barnack works on the design of a camera for 35 mm motion picture film. The result materializes early in 1914 with the legendary "Ur LEICA", vindicating the concept "small negative large pictures".
Levy Roth (Model: Minnigraph - 1915. Made in Austria)
50 exposures 18x24 on 35mm film in special cassettes. The first 35 mm camera made in Europe.
Kodak (Model: 00 Cartridge Premo - 1916. Made in USA)
Six exposure roll film, 32x44 mm format box camera, the first in Kodak for little format.
FACT (Model: Autocinephot - 1918. Made in Italy)
Original camera planned from Tartara and named Autocinephot, equipped with a spring motor and can carry out seven various functions, camera, cinema camera, floodlight, magnifier etc. The shutter like a cross of Malta said about however the main employment like cinema camera rather than as camera very soon the licence comes yielded the French manufacturer André Debrie who producted it with the Sept name.
Novaya Shkola (Model: Cyclocamera - 1920. Made in USSR)
Russian 35-mm Box-type Camera "Cyclocamera", c. 1920 Manufacturer "Novaya Shkola, Leningrad", 24 x 24 mm, leatherette-covered wooden body. Monocular lens 9/38 mm Fix Focus: Sector shutter 1/30 and B, reflex viewfinder. The 35-mm film could be loaded in dark-room only. This is the only one known worldwide.
(via Wikipedia and Corso Polaris)