Kodak to Stop Making Kodachrome
By MIKE BARRIS
Eastman Kodak Co. will discontinue its iconic Kodachrone color film this year due to tumbling sales as photographers embrace newer Kodak films or digital imaging technology.
Kodak introduced the amateur color film in 1935 and it became the first commercially successful color film. But sales are just a fraction of 1% of the company’s still-picture film revenue. The company doesn’t break out such figures, but the segment in which Kodak’s film sales are recorded had first-quarter revenue of $503 million.
That 31% drop from a year earlier highlights the woes the company has been undergoing. The company thought that when it completed a wrenching multiyear transition to having a digital focus at the end of 2007 that its restructuring was behind it. But a continued sales slump has resulted in more retrenchment — Kodak in January announced plans to cut another 3,500 to 4,500 jobs, as much as 18% of its work force, this year.
Kodak estimates that current supplies of the film will last until early this fall.
The last rolls of the film will be donated to George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, which houses the world’s largest collection of cameras and related artifacts. In addition, Steve McCurry — known for a 1985 photo of a young Afghan girl peering from the cover of National Geographic magazine — will shoot one of those last rolls and the images will be donated to Eastman House.
The Kodachrome output stoppage is another sign of the company’s transition — by 2004, the company that marketed its first snapshot camera in 1888 had stopped making film cameras.