Kodak Files for Bankruptcy … an End to a Legendary Era in Photographic History

Image Courtesy of Daily Beast

If you are over 30, there is no question that Kodak has touched your life in some way. Myself, I grew up with my father taking pictures on a Kodak camera which were developed as Kodak slides, shown on a Kodak projector, and so on. The first camera I used was an Instamatic, and the first one I remember buying myself was one of the pictured Disc cameras, and I still have disc negatives in photo pouches in my house.

This week we learned that the legendary Rochester, NY based company has filed for bankruptcy protection:

Eastman Kodak Co, the photography icon that invented the hand-held camera, has filed for bankruptcy protection and plans to shrink significantly, capping a prolonged plunge for one of America’s best-known companies.

The Chapter 11 filing makes Kodak one of the biggest corporate casualties of the digital age, after it failed to quickly embrace more modern technologies such as the digital camera — ironically, a product it invented.

Kodak once dominated its industry, and its film was the subject of a popular 1973 song, “Kodachrome,” by Paul Simon.

The bankruptcy may give Kodak, which traces its roots to 1880, the ability to find buyers for some of its 1,100 digital patents, a major portion of its value. Kodak now employs 17,000 people worldwide, down from 63,900 just nine years ago.

“It is a very sad day even though we had anticipated it,” said Shannon Cross, an analyst at Cross Research who has had a “sell” rating on the company since 2001. “If it emerges, it will be a much smaller entity.”

Kodak also said it obtained a $950 million, 18-month credit line from Citigroup Inc so it can keep operating and avoid having to liquidate. It said it expects to complete the bankruptcy process in 2013.

I remember visiting Rochester while looking at colleges in the early 80’s, loving the Eastman School of Music at University of Rochester, and of course checking out the company itself. Just like Polaroid at that time … it was a whole different world.

Here is the famous Paul Simon song Kodachrome from the famous Simon & Garfunkel concert in NYC in 1981, when Kodak itself was still a major force in the world:

What are your Kodak memories?

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