(updated April, 2021)
Another one for the Baby Boomers memory scrapbook. The Kodachrome film that we grew up with is no longer available on the mass market. It ceased to be produced, in any form, by Kodak in 2010.
Table of Contents
Kodachrome Gone Mama
If you pick a vintage roll up from eBay or elsewhere and expose it, you might be disappointed by the resulting images or movie. Today you can only develop a roll of Kodachrome in black and white, and not very good black and white by modern standards.
We baby boomers grew up with photos being taken of us in our cribs. Almost all of those photos were taken on Kodak film of one form or the other. We took our own first shots with our Christmas cameras using Kodak. It was a brand that we have always taken for granted. Is was synonymous with photography.
BUT NOT ANY LONGER
According to an Atlantic Monthly article published today, “The very last roll of Kodachrome film will be delivered today in Parsons, Kansas. Kodak has slowly phased out the materials needed to make and develop the film. Only a single operation in the world — Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons — had continued to develop Kodachrome.”
The article: Gallery: Kodachrome Is Dead, Long Live Kodachrome
Then from CBS: “They are fast becoming a memory of Christmas past – photographs taken the old way, with film. And the most famous film of all — Kodachrome — is itself about to become a memory, as CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod reports.” Click here to read entire CBS article.
Brief Kodachrome History
The Kodachrome and it new process was released first in the form of 16 mm movie film, announced in April 1935. The three emulsions sensitive to a primary color was was the brainchild of Leopold Godowsky Jr. and Leopold Mannes.
When the film went to market, it was far too expensive for the general public to put into their cameras. The initial price of a roll was $3.50 . Which in the current economy is around $54. On top of the price for the film, for the first 20 years of its use, the exposed film had to be sent to a Kodak laboratory for developing.
At the outset there were some issues with the film. The processing cycle was very complex and integrate, and the stability of the dyes was problematic. Both issues were corrected and the revised film was on the market by 1938.
In 1954 the Justice Department found that Kodachrome was a monopoly and had to release the processing to other non-Kodak shops. With that move the developing price dropped by nearly half.
Soon after the turn of this century Kodak stopped processing Kodachrome film. Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas was the only plant developing the film. Many outlets, including Wal-Mart, collected the exposed film, but it was sent to Dwayne’s Photo.
Steinle’s Kansas store processes all of Kodak’s Kodachrome film — if you drop a roll off at your local Wal-Mart, it will be developed at Dwayne’s Photo — and though it is the only center left in the world, the company processes only a few hundred rolls a day.
The Kodachrome Song
When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school
It’s a wonder
I can think at all
And though my lack of education
Hasn’t hurt me none
I can read the writing on the wall
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s
A sunny day, oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to a photograph
So mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away
Simon and Garfunkel lamented the lose of Kodachrome in this great song. Films and photos are all about memories. The pair would miss the developed likenesses of their past. Yet, the went on to enjoy the royalties of the song.
See our similar 1960s memory articles here.