Academy Award-winning camera lens maker
At a special ceremony held in 2013, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Cooke Optics with an Oscar for helping ‘define the look of motion pictures over the last century.’
Little wonder. The company has been at the top of the film-making game since before there was a game.
Founded in the 1880s, it quickly became lens maker for early Hollywood, pioneering technology for talkies, from Charlie Chaplin to the Wizard of Oz.
It stayed the leader through the golden years, fought off competition from the Japanese in the 1980s to do Spartacus, James Bond, the Sound of Music, Superman, Star Wars.
And it’s still the leading light today. Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and The Crown, to name but a few, all filmed through a Cooke lens.
And where is this Hollywood darling based? That’s right, the East Midlands. A century of movie glamour filmed through lenses that were hand made by dexterous bearded men (and some dexterous non-bearded women) in white coats from Leicester.
The company has stayed the best through restless innovation, inventing the zoom lens for movies cameras, prime lenses that removed the need for bright lights, and a new lens that captures meta-data for post-production teams.
Its factory has generations from the same family working side-by-side, handing down experience.
And if that isn’t enough, its co-founder, William Taylor, also invented the dimples on golf balls.
In July 2018 the company was acquired by Caledonia Investments, a London listed investment trust, valuing the company at nearly £100m.