I’m sharing this link from PetaPixel with a feature story on the continued demise of Kodak.
For someone like me (and my colleagues) this represents a final nail in the coffin Kodak began preparing for itself years ago.
I watched with dismay over the last decade and a half as Kodak continually shot itself in the foot. For a leader in the photography – and digital imaging – industry, somehow, everything the company did went South on them.
One must remember that it was Kodak and George Eastman who put photography in the hands of Americans in the late 1890s. The introduction of the Brownie Box camera was like the original disposable camera; you shoot the film, send the camera in and get back your pictures and a freshly-loaded camera.
I’m not going to get into the specifics here…I’ll let the business publications handle that…just do a search for “demise of eastman kodak” and you’ll find the financial debacle stuff. I just want to throw in my two cents (which, ironically, is about what the stock will be worth soon).
Any of us from those days grew up with “the Great Yellow Father” in our lives. Whether your first camera was a 127, a 110 or a 35mm, chances are you loaded it with Kodak film. And, if you went on to become a photojournalist like I did, you shot Tri-X film. To this day I love Tri-X and keep 100′ of it on hand to feed my old manual Nikons.
So where did Kodak go wrong? Like I said, I’m not an analyst…just some guy on a soapbox…but here are a few dingers I remember:
1982 – 1990 – Kodak introduces the Disc camera series. This ridiculous cartridge-film camera used a piece of film 1/5th the size of the 110 format which was 1/5th the size of the 127 format. And they continued charging roughly the same price for the film cartridge. Consumer gouging?
1991 – Kodak DCS camera: a 1.2 MP camera which really got the ball rolling…cost? Somewhere over $10,000. I’m not dissing Kodak on this one…I mean, someone had to get the ball rolling and they did it.
Hell, nothing in digital was cheap in the beginning. I first owned ten 1GB Lexar 40x cards at a cost of $269 each!
1992-96 – Kodak APS (Advanced Photo System): This baby was like a .357 in the foot…though, I still believe it was a test-bed for some type of film/digital hybrid. It was a joint project among Canon, Fuji, Minolta and Nikon to develop (haha) yet another film size. Another one destined for shelves and garage sales everywhere.
2002 – Kodak DCS 14n: I remember picking this up at the flagship Waxman’s in downtown Denver (speaking of demise). Outwardly, it looked very cool! But, once I had my hands wrapped around it, it was clear that it had been rushed into production; poor fit of parts and controls mostly. Once it hit the shelves, major image quality problems sprang forth. Kodak’s answer was continual firmware and software upgrades. It failed.
2005 – Kodak stops making Black & White photo paper. Good bye G surface.
Sometime in the mid-2000s I remember seeing a blister-pack Kodak “Digital” camera. Curious, I took a closer look. Lo and behold! It was but a film camera masquerading as a digital. “WTF,” you say? Me too! They were now marketing their disposable 35mm film cameras as digital; develop, print and scan the film!
I couldn’t help but think on two planes…
One, someone in their marketing department was a genius and deserved a raise. Or…Two, it was a very sad, pitiable attempt at grabbing back a bit of the market share. And, clearly, Number Two it was.
And so it goes. Today was the announcement that Kodak will file Chapter 11. And so ends an Era…
“I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don’t take my Kodachrome away…”