When you look at GoPro's line of HERO action cameras, they all have certain characteristics in common. They're small, sleek, powerful, and rugged enough to withstand a blow from a sledgehammer. (They probably can.) They're also pretty damn expensive, with the latest HERO6 being sold for $500.
However, when you look at the first GoPro HERO—and I'm not talking about your first GoPro HERO, which was most likely the HERO3—it looks like some kitschy monstrosity that was sold on QVC for $20. And that's probably because it was a kitschy monstrosity that was sold on QVC for $30! (Plus, it was a friggin' film camera!) Don't believe me? Check out this video from Thirty Five Studios and learn all about the history of the very first GoPro.
Entrepreneur and avid surfer Nick Woodman founded GoPro in 2002 after realizing he couldn't capture photos of him shredding the gnar with any of the cameras and accessories on the market. So, after raising capital through a $230,000 investment from his father, a Silicon Valley investment banker, as well as through $20 bead and shell belts he sold out of his '71 VW bus/home (dubbed "The Buscuit"), Woodman was able to send his idea and his custom wrist strap to China where a company named Hotax developed the first HERO action camera, housing, as well as the official GoPro logo.
These rebranded cams were big, shot on 35mm film, and sold for around $30, which is not bad for a product that only cost $3 to manufacture. This little gadget is so rad and so bad—it's badrad. And if you're bummed that you never got the chance to shoot on an original GoPro HERO before they switched to digital in 2006 (capable of 10 seconds of video!!!!), they're still floating around on eBay for around 40 bucks.
Source: Thirty Five Studios