Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away

The Rise, Fall, and Return of Kodachrome Color Film

Authored by: M. M. Chandler

The Routledge Companion to Media Technology and Obsolescence

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138216266
eBook ISBN: 9781315442686
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315442686-15

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Abstract

Even if you never heard of a “Kodachrome” before, chances are you have seen one. From Gerald Sheedy’s 1937 snapshots of the fiery Hindenburg explosion, to Abraham Zapruder’s infamous 1963 home movie of President Kennedy’s assassination, to Steve McCurry’s haunting 1984 National Geographic photos of The Afghan Girl, Sharbat Gula, the tragedies and triumphs of modern history have been burned into our collective memory as color-saturated images captured on Kodachrome film. 1 Released by George Eastman’s Kodak Company as the first color film stock in 1935, Kodachrome changed the nature and future of color photo-cinematic image-making. Throughout the 1930s–1980s, Kodachrome achieved widespread commercial success in both amateur and professional markets as a still photography and motion picture medium. Analog Kodachrome film began to fade into outmoded obsolescence when the market turned to inchoate digital imaging technologies beginning in the mid-1970s, which ultimately culminated in the discontinuation of its production and photo-lab processing by 2010. In many histories of technology, this would signal the end of the story, but this is not the case for Kodachrome.

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