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Why Kodak Stopped Making Kodachrome Film


The Eastman Kodak Company has announced that it will stop making Kodachrome film and existing supplies are expected to run out by the fall of 2009. The company will be retiring an American icon after a remarkable 74-year career. Kodachrome film was the world’s first commercially successful color film when it was launched in 1935. It was also the basis for much of the technical and commercial success of the Eastman Kodak Company. Sales of Kodachrome film, however, have declined significantly in the last several years as photographers switch to digital format.

Although Kodak managed to sell about $500 million of film during the last three months, sales of film are falling about 30% every year and the downward trend appears to be accelerating. As well, Kodachrome film represents less that one percent of all of Kodak’s film sales. To get an idea of how small the Kodachrome film market has become, Dwayne’s Photo Shop in Parsons, Kansas is the only Kodak-certified photo store in the world that still develops Kodachrome film.

Many people grew up with Kodachrome film. Often, Kodachrome was the film of choice when someone was given their first camera. Many people have fond memories growing up taking family photos and vacation snaps using Kodachrome film. Its deep, rich vibrant colors helped to cement many people’s memories of their childhood. Even getting the family together during holidays and special events to view family photos with a slide projector was a cherished tradition in many households.

Chances are, much of a genealogist’s photo collection is probably on Kodachrome film. Unfortunately, Kodachrome appears destined to slowly fade from memory. However, images made on Kodachrome film though will continue to exist in digital format. Kodak has created a gallery of iconic Kodachrome images on a special website called Kodachrome Tribute.


Some Interesting “Genealogy’ Facts about Kodachrome

• Kodachrome was produced in a variety of formats over the years for both still and motion picture cameras. Motion picture formats included 8mm, Super 8, 16 mm and 35mm. Still photography formats included 35mm, 120, 110, 126, 127, 828 and large format size.
• Perhaps the most famous Kodachrome photograph is the one that appeared in National Geographic of an Afghan girl. This picture appears on the Kodachrome Tribute website.
• Kodachrome Basin State Park in Utah is named after Kodachrome film, the only park in the world named after a film.
• Paul Simon had a song in 1973 called “Kodachrome” where he sings about the iconic film. The song hit the #2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.
• Kodachrome was the official coronation film of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1952.

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