These cameras were popular from the early 1900s up until World War II. After the war they started to fade out as the 35mm film format was introduced and smaller cameras without bellows became available. Folding cameras were manufactured in Russia up until the 1960s.
A folding camera can be folded into a compact and durable package when you are not using it. The objective of this type of camera is linked to a pantograph-type mechanism, in which a component is usually the lid. When unfolded, the objective extends to give the camera the correct focus. With this type of camera you need to drape a cloth over it or use leather bellows to keep the light out. When the camera is folded it has an ideal physical size to film size ratio. This made folding cameras quite appealing when large and medium format films were the only ones available.