Félix Richard established in 1845 a company that was specialised in the manufacturing of barometers. He was married to Françoise Antoinette Froment and they had four sons. Jules Richard was the second oldest, and was born in Lyon on 19 December 1848. Jules was trained as an apprentice in his father’s workshop. He left in 1866, only to return 10 years later when the company of his late father was in financial trouble. Jules took over the management of the company, and patented in 1880 the first reliable barometer that could permanently record air pressure. With ink, the air pressure values were periodically written on a cylinder. It became very successful, and the company at 25, Rue Mélingue in Paris started to grow.
From 1887 to 1891, Jules ran the company together with his younger brother Felix Maxime (Max) as Richard Frères. Due to mutual differences, the collaboration ended at the end of 1891, and the two brothers got involved in a lawsuit. Surprisingly enough, the name Richard Frères and logo remained in use for a long time after the breakup. Max partnered with cinema pioneer Léon Gaumont, who became one of the major competitors of Jules’ company.
Jules introduced the compact 45 x 107 mm glass format and the Vérascope stereo camera in 1893. It became a great success and the Vérascope became the best-selling stereo camera of its time, with an estimated production of between 52,000 and 100,000 cameras. A product line was created around the new format, with a wide range of cameras, stereoscopes and accessories in different price ranges. Richard became the leading brand of stereoscopy products and brought stereo photography within the range of amateurs. His product names, such as the Vérascope camera and the Taxiphote stereoscope, were commonly used as synonyms for stereo cameras and stereo viewers of all kinds.
Jules’ company became a public company in 1921, and that was the moment he handed over the management of the business. In 1923, he donated five million francs for the creation of the École des Apprentis Mécaniciens Précisionnistes, where students were trained to make precision instruments. The school still exists today and is called now Lycée Technologique Privé Jules Richard.
Jules died on 18 June 1930 and was buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. The company continued to manufacture stereography equipment until 1957, and continues today with the name JRI. JRI no longer makes photography equipment, but is specialised in the manufacturing of precision instruments, just as it once started in 1845.