I noticed the other day that Kodak has gone out of the camera business. No, not the film camera business. They stopped making film cameras in 2004. No the picture giant in Rochester NY., not too far from here has given up it’s digital camera manufacturing and will only design and sell cameras from now on.
Way back in 1888 George Eastman came up with the slogan, “You press the button and we’ll do the rest.” Kodak was born, a partnership between George Eastman and another businessman who made buggy whips.
Now the film camera is basically a buggy whip itself. And it seems that the once giant Rochester Company couldn’t move fast enough in the digital world to keep its head above water.
In a way it’s sort of sad. How many moments of your life were captured by the click of a Kodak shutter? Remember “Open me first?” It was on the package under the tree that contained the new Kodak camera. For a while the company was “America’s storyteller”. I remember Paul Anka crooning something about the “Times of our lives” in a Kodak commercial. Kodak even changed the brand name from a noun to a verb around the turn of the previous century urging you to “Kodak” as you go.
There was something kind of magical about the whole picture taking process back then. You took photos at Thanksgiving. Maybe a few more left on the roll were used up at Christmas time. Someone finally dropped them off at the drugstore by springtime. You got to see last years holidays while making plans to go to the beach. And that was kind of cool. There was always that moment of “Wow”! as you looked at pictures, little frozen pieces in time that had slipped away in the grind of the every day world.
And with the digital camera all that mystery and waiting is now gone. How like life as it is now. Instant gratification but never quite the same. Maybe that’s why the Kodak name will never be the same again. It’s another Dinosaur falling to the ground.
And most of the next generation will not even remember what instamatic meant.