Friday, January 20, 2012

"Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away"

Yesterday was a sad day in photographic history when Kodak, the 132-year-old trailblazer and leader of the film photography world, filed for bankruptcy protection.  Somehow they failed to capitalize on the digital technology the pioneer helped develop.
Other than the Amish, Kodak played a roll in capturing memories for nearly everyone in the 20th century. It is well known and well trusted by millions. Because of it's familiarity, to a degree we're all saddened by this announcement. There's an emotional connection.

It was my usual choice of film products of all types.

At one time you could step into nearly every American home and find film or photo or point-and-shoot Brownie and Instamatic cameras with the Kodak logo. In the last five year, that scene has all vanished.

Kodak once employed 145,300 worldwide. Today that number as been reduced to 18,800.

It's a sign of the times.

I was slow to jump on the digital bandwagon, finally purchasing a digital camera just before a trip last February.  In a small way, I contributed to today's announcement.

Regardless of the final outcome, there will always be plenty of Kodachrome slides holding onto history for years to come.

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The word "Kodak" was first registered as a trademark in 1888. There has been speculation on how the name was originated. The truth is that Eastman invented it out of thin air.

He explained: "I devised the name myself. The letter 'K' had been a favorite with me -- it seems a strong, incisive sort of letter. It became a question of trying out a great number of combinations of letters that made words starting and ending with 'K.' The word 'Kodak' is the result." Kodak's distinctive yellow trade dress, which Eastman selected, is widely known throughout the world and is one of the company's more valued assets.

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