Ever wondered about the history of purikura? The English wiki has very little information so I had a look at some Japanese sites.
The first purikura machines were simple frame sticker pictures located at amusement parks. I remember having the same kind of machines in England when I was younger!
They were called プリント倶楽部 (print club) and that’s where the name purikura now comes from.
プリント倶楽部 = purinto kurabu
プリント倶楽部 is the trademarked name from the company Atlus (machine above) which made the first machines. No other company can use that word, however ‘purikura’ has become the standard name for any photo sticker booth. They usually officially have names like “Photo sticker booth” “sticker machine” etc.
Atlus released the first machines in July 1995, but in 1997 they were featured on a TV show by SMAP and that’s when the boom years really started. It seems Atlus had a monopoly for about two years until other companies started getting in on the act, and in 2009 Atlus announced it was leaving the arcade business including purikura machines. They now focus on software games.
Surprisingly, the first full body machine was Street Snap made in 1998 by the now-bankrupt Towa Japan.
Around 1999 the focus became pens, decorating and skintone lightening, and by 2000 the decoration screen had become separate. Until then (and even now in some low-quality or specialist machines) you decorated on the same screen as you took the pictures.
Around 1999 was also when glittery or metallic prints became possible.
The peak number of machines occurred in 2002 with 36,546 machines in use.
In 2003 machines began processing and altering/enhancing your features, whether that was a good move or bad, I’ll leave up to you!
In 2004 the first “image model”, meaning a famous magazine model, was used. Although I couldn’t find out who. It was also around 2004 that purikura corners started becoming women/couples only, to prevent voyeurs taking up-skirt photos at the decoration booth (possibly why there are seats too?) and guys hanging around just to try and pick up girls.
Around 2005 there began to be machines with extra things inside, such as benches…
Monkey bars to hang from…
Even whole climbing frames!
Most recently mobile phone downloading and finally specific mobile phone graphics for bloggers and for your wallpaper, ringing screen etc were added.
Atlas launched an overseas company in China in 2003 but dissolved it in 2006, they also attempted to launch in Singapore but lost money and pulled out in 2008. As far as I know most purikura machine abroad are exported from Japan rather than local versions.
The current major manufacturers are FuRyu (first purikura in 1998) , Make Software (1997), Bandai-Namco (1997), IMS (2000) and Tatsumi (2000).
You can see some of the old machines here.
Main sources: Japanese wiki, Shibuya Station, Purikura Museum, and my own memories!
My purikura history!
2004 – pretty simple
2005 - still simple
2006 – started to get more fun options, tinting…
2007 – loads of fun frames came out and double taking of pictures
2008 – Otome came out and let you get into the frames
2009 – this kind of colour wash came out (I miss it!) along with flash graphics and the occasional black and white option
2010 – square pictures started coming out and the quality increased a lot.
2011 – collage bonus shots started with Bambi-Na, also lots more eye settings and make-up enhancements became standard
2012 – blogger style Instagram-inspired frames and filters became popular, Me Her Jyoshi is a machine specifically targeting fashion bloggers.
I’m excited for the future!
PS. I was told that typing in those prove you're human words for commenting was too annoying so I've disabled them!