Two little gems of LOMO history have recently surfaced. Presenting the original Lomo Kompakt Automat (also known as the LC-A). At first glance, these specific cameras might just look to be old, worn-out and nothing special. Maybe they are a little interesting to some because of the Cyrillic lettering, but this is nothing the experienced Lomographer has not seen before.
These specific LC-As are a little more special than the average ones. Now, this goes without saying that every LC-A is special and each has its own unique quirks and personality, but it is not the personality that makes these noteworthy. To figure out why one has to look back to the LC-A’s birthday. The day the LC-A went into mass production was June 19th, 1984 and originally 1100 cameras were manufactured each month.
These two cameras were made in the very first months of production, 33 years ago. Here, we have serial numbers 841987 and 842411, meaning these are the 1,987th and the 2,411th LC-A cameras LOMO mass-produced. The first two digits of the original LC-As reflect the year it was made, hence 1984. The following digits are the camera’s unique serial number. Knowing that LOMO made 1,100 cameras per month, this makes these cameras from the 2nd and 3rd months of mass production.
These cameras are slightly different than most LC-A's. Aside from the Cyrillic lettering ЛОМО, лк-а and Минитар 1 on the lens cover, these cameras manufactured for the Soviet market also have their light meter is measured by ГОСТ (GOST, the Soviet measurement similar to ASA/ISO). One notable physical feature of these early batches is the placement of the GOST stamp. If the LC-A was made in the early production runs, the GOST stamp is smaller and under the information window. By the end of 1984, the GOST label was increased in size and moved to the side of the information window. On these early models the Soviet 'seal of quality' was not present and the fasteners used were slot type instead of Phillips type screws.
By late 1984, the serial numbers increased from six to seven digits. On export models and later domestic models, the serial numbers reached eight digits. The first two digits still marked the production year. LC-As produced after 1996 feature the 'Lomoboy’ on the viewfinder cover. In late Russian production, the LC-A’s serial number sometimes starts with a letter, most likely 'X,' so it is slightly problematic to place their age accurately. It is safe to assume that these are from the early 2000s. In 2005, the Russian LC-A was discontinued in favor of the Lomo LC-A+. In 2006, production for the LC-A+ began in China. Although not verified, it is believed the tradition that the first two digits still reflect the year of production on the LC-A.
It is interesting to note that even older LC-As are known to exist, those of pre-mass production. These cameras start with 83. Hence 1983 being the year of production, making those cameras extra rare.
Which Lomo do you have; an original LC-A, Lomoboy LC-A, or an LC-A+? Open the film door and comment what year your camera was produced! (Be careful! Do not open the camera if you are in the middle of a roll of film.)