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Death of Kodachrome

A 1949 Kodachrome of the West End of London.
A 1949 Kodachrome of the West End of London

As someone who identifies themselves as a Rochestarian, or someone from the area of Rochester, I've grown up being surrounded by people who worked for the once picture Juggernaut of Kodak. The company was so large and powerful that anyone within a 70 mile radius knew someone who worked for Kodak or depended on Kodak for their sustainability. Sense then, Kodak has, well, let's just say it hasn't done so well. The digital revolution hit the film industry hard. As a result, the Rochester area as a whole has suffered.

Recently it was announced that Kodak would be discontinuing it's production of Kodachrome, it's color film that they first developed back in 1935. Of course everyone in the city and it's outlying suburbs and country side, are "mourning" the loss of the great film. After all, if Rhymin' Simon sang about it, you know it had to be big. And it was. But the thing is, the stuff was developed only 7 years after the first TV set. In that time TV has gone to color, to digital, to HD, constantly changing. Kodachrome has, well, it's kinda hard to change Kodachrome.

For me this whole thing is like watching a great, great, great grandmother finally pass on after living through cancer, rickets, loosing an eye, gangrene, necrotizing fasciitis, bunions, and being crushed by a rhino stampede at the zoo. Not only was it her time, it was WELL past her time. Same thing with the old Kodachrome. The stuff should have been discontinued years ago, but for some reason, the uper-ups at Kodak didn't think that the digital revolution would reach the serious photography market. They were wrong.

And what turned out to be a horrible lack of technological adoption didn't hurt just Kodak, but the City of Rochester its self. How a company that revolutionized the image capturing world so much that the city was nick-named "The Picture City," and any time you reached for your camera was coined "a Kodak moment" was blind to the increase of digital technology is beyond me. Was it cooperate ineptitude? Was it laziness? Could be both, but the biggest cause was the attitude, I think. Look at people's reaction her in good old Rocha-cha-cha. Everyone is acting like their best friend died. People are so busy looking back at the way things USED to be that they don't have the time to look forward and say "what now?" What also kinda worries me is that people are also not taking the time to look back and say "how did we get here?" It seems that when they look back around these parts, they are simply saying "Remember how great it was back then?"

There is nothing wrong about looking back to the past to reminisce, but when you hold on to the past and say "this is the way we are doing it because that's how our fathers have done it, and their fathers before them," well, I hate to break it to you, but that's a recipe for failure. History has shown, time and time again, those who are willing and able to adapt to their current issues and surroundings are the ones that survive and prosper.

"It's the end of an era" is what I constantly hear people say. I'm not sure if they are talking about Kodachrome or Kodak. But, had Kodak kept up with the rise of digital technology would that be a question, and would anyone care about the end of Kodachrome? The biggest light at the end of the tunnel I can see is hopefully this will force Kodak to fully embrace digital and go back to the things that made them so great in the first place, innovation and cutting edge technological development.

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