I spent some time this morning trolling the web for details of the history of simple cameras. I did turn up some interesting bits about that, but I also happened on some amazing stuff about modifying a couple of my favorite Vivitar plastic cameras, the Ultra Wide and Slim and the PN2011.
The articles by the acclaimed technical writer, Nano_Burger, are on the Instructables.com site. If you click on the above photos you will be magically transported to the associated articles.
I have to admit, while admiring the level of craftsmanship displayed by Nano_Burger, it is pretty unlikely that I will actually choose to hack my Vivitars. The truth is that I'm a pretty clumsy craftsman, and I fear I would damage my beloved but flimsy plastic cameras. I also tend to enjoy working with the challenge of simplicity which the plastic cameras provide.
Some of my favorites from the VUWS are contained in a Flickr-based slideshow: