Originally Published June 22, 2009
To quote Paul Simon, “please don’t take my Kodachrome away” But this is exactly what will be happening as Kodak retires its Kodachrome film after 74 years, due to waning sales, competing films and the transfer to digital photography.
Kodachrome film was first invented in 1936 by Leopold Mannes and Leopold Godowsky Jr as a 16 mm film for movies. In 1936, Eastman Kodak introduced Kodachrome to the masses in a 35 mm film for still photography.
Kodachrome, since its introduction, has been known for its clarity, sharpness and vivid colors: it has graced the pages of Time, Life and National Geographic, putting our world into a new era of photography that popped from the page. We can all go through our family photo albums and find pictures of our grandparents, parents and us, taken with Kodachrome and printed on Kodak papers – and the images still retain the quality they did when they were new.
From 1936 through 1989, Kodachrome remained supreme in the photographic market, and is still the premiere film used for archival purposes.
Alas, the era comes to an end, as more of us go digital and other, less expensive but still quality films have flooded the marketplace since the 1990s, Kodak has seen a steadily declining market and now over 70% of their business is in the digital market.
Kodachrome, though it has stopped production, has enough film stock left to last in the marketplace through early fall, and will continue to process the film through 2010.
It is time to get out and dust off our SLR cameras, go buy one last roll of Kodachrome and through taking photos documenting our own personal histories, commemorate the end of an era of photography.