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Kodak Dumps Kodachrome

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted June 23, 2009





At the ripe old age of 45, becoming a living and breathing anachronism is something that is kind of hard for me to admit. But the truth is, this far into it the world has left me in its dust.

Anything and everything is different these days. They call it all progress but sometimes I’m not real sure if I agree with them.

Take TV, for instance. Now that is something that’s gotten considerably worse, not better.

In fact, it has gotten so bad that I can’t even let my kids watch the commercials anymore for fear that they will ask me about the dangers of a four hour long erection— whatever that is.

By the way, is it just me or does anyone else ever wonder why they have to broadcast that little tidbit at dinner time? Some things are better off left for the fine print.

But that’s not to say that everything new isn’t worthwhile because what’s new is what entrepreneur capitalism is all about. After all, if you build a better mouse trap the world really will beat a path to your door.

Of course, one of those better mousetraps is the digital camera. It’s an invention so good it has sent the film of my youth the way of the buggy whip. And when I think about my Uncle’s old Polaroid camera I just have to laugh.

Thirty years later, it is not exactly as cutting edge as I thought it was back in the day.

Neither, evidently was the Polaroid Corporation. After over 80 years of making instant film cameras, Polaroid went bust in 2008.

Even still, Polaroid’s biggest rival managed to adjust and adapt to it all. Kodak survives, but in a slightly different form.

Kodachrome, however, has bitten the dust.

From the AP entitled: Sorry, Paul Simon, Kodak’s Axing Kodachrome

“Sorry, Paul Simon, Kodak is taking your Kodachrome away.

 The Eastman Kodak Co. announced Monday it’s retiring its oldest film stock because of declining customer demand in an increasingly digital age.

 The world’s first commercially successful color film, immortalized in song by Simon, spent 74 years in Kodak’s portfolio. It enjoyed its heyday in the 1950s and ’60s but in recent years has nudged closer to obscurity: Sales of Kodachrome are now just a fraction of 1 percent of the company’s total sales of still-picture films, and only one commercial lab in the world still processes it.

Those numbers and the unique materials needed to make it convinced Kodak to call its most recent manufacturing run the last, said Mary Jane Hellyar, the outgoing president of Kodak’s Film, Photofinishing and Entertainment Group.

 “Kodachrome is particularly difficult (to retire) because it really has become kind of an icon,” Hellyar said.

 The company now gets about 70 percent of its revenue from its digital business, but plans to stay in the film business “as far into the future as possible,” Hellyar said.

Because of the complexity, only Dwayne’s Photo, in Parsons, Kan., still processes Kodachrome film. The lab has agreed to continue through 2010, Kodak said.

Hellyar estimates the retail supply of Kodachrome will run out in the fall, though it could be sooner if devotees stockpile.”

Someday it will all be gone.

Even still, watching that film develop before your very eyes was pretty cool.

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