As I mentioned in my talk about the AE-1, Canon was on a new track with electronic advancements in their cameras. In 1978 they released their third A-series camera, the Canon A-1.
Like the AE-1, it relied a lot on advanced electronics and was also a melding of metal and plastic but more metal this time (like the top plate_. The A-1 was designed as a step up in build and electronic advancement. The Canon A-1 was the first SLR camera with automatic program AE mode, actually it offered five AE modes, aperture-priority, shutter-priority, program, stopped-down, and electronic flash … hmmm, reminds me of Spinal Tap, though it doesn’t have 11.
It also offered a “high tech” space age LED readout … though Fujica was actually the first ones to do so in 1974. The camera’s primary control was it’s AE input dial. This one dial controls both the aperture, shutter speed, and sets the auto exposure mode … the aperture dial on the lens is only used in full manual mode.
These changes made the A-1 the most advanced shooter, at the time. The main control dial, auto exposure, and advanced LED readout … hmm, sounds like our modern cameras. You can definitely “feel” the difference when using it compared to the other A’s. The Canon A-1 continued production up to 1982 when the T-series was released.