Kodachrome's Future Not So Bright

Kodak will retire the color film after 74 years on the market

By Cory Lopez
|  Monday, Jun 22, 2009  |  Updated 9:30 AM CDT
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Kodachrome's Future Not So Bright

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Once an American icon, Kodachrome ran up against new types of film, not to mention digital photography.

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Kodachrome, the vivid film that captured the youth of baby boomers, is finally fading away after 74 years. 

Kodak first introduced the amateur film in 1935 and it quickly became the world's first commercially successful color film. In its heydey in the 1960s, the unique film was adored by many baby-boomers for its rich but realistic tones, vibrant colors and durability. The film stock gained such popularity that it became the subject of a 1973 Paul Simon song that pleaded, "Mama don't take my Kodachrome away."

But the company says that Kodachrome sales have plummeted since the launch of both new Kodak films and digital imaging technology, according to The Associated Press. The film now accounts for less than 1% of Kodak's still-picture film revenue and, because of the complexity of the film, only Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kan., still develops it.

Kodachrome's declining sales and the expensive materials needed to make it were big reasons for the product's discontinuation. But the company says the decision was far from easy.

Kodachrome is particularly difficult (to retire) because it really has become kind of an icon,” said Kodak spokeswoman Mary Jane Hellyar.

Kodak expects that the retail supply of the film will last through early fall. The last rolls of film will be donated to George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, N.Y, which is home to the world's largest collection of cameras and related artifacts. But beyond those walls, Kodachrome will no longer be in the picture.

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