Eastman Kodak bids adieu to Kodachrome

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In 1935, Eastman Kodak Co. introduced to the world the first successfully mass-marketed color still film – Kodachrome. And (rocketing right past the seemingly-obligatory Paul Simon references) on June 22, 2009 – after 74 years – announced the end of Kodachrome production.

For generations, Kodachrome was used to capture everything from everyday family snapshots & vacation photos shown on carousel slide shows to portraits of world leaders and entertainment giants and global events that changed our world.

Kodachrome reached it’s heyday in the 50s and 60s when it was favoured by still and motion-picture photographers for its rich tones and vibrant colours.  And some of the century’s most enduring & memorable images have been captured on Kodachrome: Steve McCurry’s famous “Afghan Girl” who graced the cover of National Geographic in June of 1985, Abraham Zapruder’s 1963 8mm reel of President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas and colour photos made famous of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Joe DiMaggio.

As of late, sales of the iconic film have dwindled so far that there is currently only one commercial lab in the world still processing it. Kodak cites declining sales due to the advent of digital photography and estimates stocks of Kodachrome will run out this autumn. This January, the photography pioneer said it would cut up to 4,500 jobs (18% of its workforce). Kodachrome currently only accounts for less a percent of Eastman Kodak’s sales of still-picture film, while 70% of the company’s revenue comes from consumer & commercial digital business.

But despite losing $4.5 billion in market value last year, Eastman Kodak plans to stay in the film business on a limited basis. After the end of the year, however, it will be without its iconic Kodachrome.

Sorry, Paul. Looks like they have taken your Kodachrome away. (Forgive me, I had to.)