Originally Posted by Speed Daemon
Sounds mysterious! I can't wait.
That's the part I can't understand: Kodak was way ahead of the curve with digital imaging technology of all types. No photographic company was better prepared for the digital age than Kodak!
I have it on good authority that Kodak and Fairchild provided most if not all the sensors for US photo reconnaissance projects. I'd have thought that some "black" money would get thrown at an ailing Eastman Kodak company just to keep the labs that made and repaired these secret devices going. I don't think that equipment can go to the liquidators either.
Then again pretty much the same thing happened when Polaroid went belly up. I remember reading that museums and other fine art businesses that were using large format cameras with special Polaroid film were left high and dry when the supply of film suddenly dried up. You might know more about that story than I ever did.
All I know is that digital has served me well for utility purposes, but I couldn't imagine going to a movie and seeing a screen filled with perfect square pixels. I'm a film noir fan, and its the grain that adds so much to the experience.
I am not sure where or when Kodak went wrong. I could see the decline of Kodak beginning and then, things changing for the better throughout my history.
I do remember when mini-labs arrived in bulk. People that did not want to pay Kodaks higher costs flocked to mini-labs to get cheap processing, faster. Even though in some cases, Kodak offered a fast turnaround suited to the needs of the customer.
Kodachrome dropped on Monday morning was picked up the same day, taken to Palo Alto and processed. Slides were returned on Tuesday, usually, almost always. We still had customers wanting Ektachrome because it could be processed locally. Then the customer typically picked up the film a week later.
I remember when Kodak announced they would release Kodachtrome in 120. WOW, was I happy. The best color film ever made in larger sizes like the old days when Kodak sold Kodachrome sheet film in huge sizes as well as offering Kodachrome prints. These were prints on poly materials coated with Kodachrome emulsions. Very good in many cases due to the nature of Kodachrome.
I took the loss of Coloramas to be a sign Kodak did not care no more 'bout nuttin 'cept profits. Or perhaps it was a budget thing with GC Station.
I also remember Kodak's brief introduction of black and white printing services. Their quality sucked, but I took it as a sign that Kodak was once again serious about silver photography. Then it went away. Unique processes and materials arrived and then they were gone.
The Cibachrome Process was the first process I used extensivly that was not Kodak. Amazing quality and only a few steps required. Then Kodak released a color process that was also fast. They made making color prints fall off the log easy. Then it went away. Then they dropped Dye Transfer completely which meant the absolute best possibe process for making color prints was gone forever. Not a good or great process, but the absolute best.
I remember when Kodak decided to release Kodachrome 25 and 64 in obsolete sizes for long dead cameras. That would not happen today. It would be like Microsoft deciding to upgrade and offer support for Windows 3.1, even though people stopped using Windows 3.1 a very long time ago.
I remember the first Kodak digital efforts. They were terrible. Seems that helped kill digital at that time. Not sure when or how digital imaging started. Not sure what the first product was that put digital on the map. I did enjoy my Sony camera that recorded images on floppy disks. Made things easier.
I do remember their "new" ordering system. This was before the web was with us. They provided us with a cool touch tone phone to order products.
You punched out the little holes in plastic credit card sized cards. The holes corresponded to product SKUs. Then, you pushed a card into the phone and pressed a button. The card would be mechanically read as it slowly moved through the reader.
The first card you used was punched with EK's phone number. After a few signal tones, you started inserting the cards to order whatever you needed.
Long and involved system that usually failed at some point. It was easier to do it the old way.
Polaroid did have a large format camera. I never had much info about the process or the equipment. I do know we photographed the release meeting for the SX-70 here in Utah. We used our Kodak Master View Camera (we almost always used that camera for 8 x 10 large format. The images had to be tack sharp which is why we did the work rather than Polaroid.
Kodak did indeed do government work. Quite likely, secret work. Here is something many people do not know: Kodak produced hundreds of lenses in its history. Many Kodak optics like the Ektars, were amazing optics. Better than anything the Japs could produce. Their optics were simply amazing.
But back to secrets. I worked with a man that was a trainer that ran the Air Force Vectograph School in Colorado. He was seriously warned to avoid at all costs the secret device kept under wraps in the storage room or where ever it was kept, I forget.
He found out later, it was the Norden (Nordan?) Bomb Sight being fitted with something or another in the Denver Vectograph Training Facility.
I knew Polaroid was on the way out when they sold their polarizer division to 3M. The very thing that made them that they are/were was sold. I was actually devastated when they stopped selling their line of copy cameras.
But I ramble.