At first glance, it might be a portable radio, with its sliders, dials and grip handle. But lift it out of its brown leather carrying case and its multiple lenses come into view—eight small, bulbous eyes in two rows of four.
The Graph-Check has eight shutters, too, which fire sequentially, producing a series of eight images on a single four-by-five Polaroid print—a filmstrip in brief. The knob on the right adjusts the time interval between exposures, from ten seconds to a tenth of a second, and the knob on the left switches between three aperture settings: Dull, Normal, Bright.
Manufactured by Photogrammetry, a company based in Maryland in the United States, the Graph-Check was unusual enough to be granted a patent in 1965. It was designed for technical rather than artistic purposes, marketed to sports coaches and clubs as a tool for analysing players’ performance with its simple form of instant replay. A sample photograph in the Graph-Check manual depicts the full range of motion in a golfer’s swing.
In a Life magazine article from December 1966, Richard B. Stolley wrote that the Graph-Check “already has been purchased by more than 1000 country clubs… [it] produces an instantaneous multiple record of what the duffer has done—right or wrong. As soon as the student has completed a faulty backswing, the club professional shows him eight pictures on a single sheet of film.”
There were two models of the Graph-Check: the 300, designed for use outdoors, with a fixed shutter speed of 1/1000. The 400 was intended for indoor use, configured to lower lighting conditions with a shutter speed of 1/250. A Sylvania Sun Gun II could be mounted to the 400 for additional artificial light.
The Graph-Check was simple enough for non-professionals to use, and use it they did—in ways not anticipated by its designers, wrote Stolley in Life. “Charm schools use it to teach correct posture, and physical therapists to encourage amputees and paraplegics that they really are making progress.”