NPR logo Kodak Officially Kills Kodachrome After Digital Did It First

Kodak Officially Kills Kodachrome After Digital Did It First

Kodak announced today that it is killing the only film emulsion to ever have its own hit song — Kodachrome.

Photographer Steve McCurry with one of the most famous photographs taken using Kodachrome. .AP Photo/Mary Altaffer hide caption

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.AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

First off, I received this news the same way I would the demise of an actor from some 1950s B movie I once saw: I thought it was already dead.

Anyway, Kodachrome is the latest victim of digital's takeover of everything.

Here's Kodak's explanation of how why it pulled the plug on the venerable product.

Sales of KODACHROME Film, which became the world's first commercially successful color film in 1935, have declined dramatically in recent years as photographers turned to newer KODAK Films or to the digital imaging technologies that Kodak pioneered. Today, KODACHROME Film represents just a fraction of one percent of Kodak's total sales of still-picture films.

"KODACHROME Film is an iconic product and a testament to Kodak's long and continuing leadership in imaging technology," said Mary Jane Hellyar, President of Kodak's Film, Photofinishing and Entertainment Group. "It was certainly a difficult decision to retire it, given its rich history. However, the majority of today's photographers have voiced their preference to capture images with newer technology — both film and digital. Kodak remains committed to providing the highest-performing products — both film and digital — to meet those needs."

Search the entire press release and you'll find no mention of Paul Simon's bouncy "Kodachrome." But I predict you'll be hearing that song a lot today, if only in your own head. "Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away" etc.

The press release continues with this interesting information:

Among the well-known professional photographers who used KODACHROME Film is Steve McCurry, whose picture of a young Afghan girl captured the hearts of millions of people around the world as she peered hauntingly from the cover of National Geographic Magazine in 1985.

As part of a tribute to KODACHROME Film, Kodak will donate the last rolls of the film to George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, which houses the world's largest collection of cameras and related artifacts. McCurry will shoot one of those last rolls and the images will be donated to Eastman House.

Actually, the last rolls of Kodachrome are probably going to be found not at Kodak but in kitchen junk draws are over America, perhaps even the world.

In honor of the end of the Kodachrome era, which really ended a long time ago but officially ended with a whimper today, we have an idea. Upload your old Kodachrome (I know, that's redundant) to Flickr and tag it kodakmoment. Or you can post them to whatever site you like and tell us via Twitter using the tag #kodakmoment. We could all use the trip down memory lane.