How Kodak invented digital photography but went bankrupt

Eastman Kodak employee Steven Sasson invented the digital camera — in the mid 1970s. Management at the time were not impressed: “They were convinced that no one would ever want to look at their pictures on a television set,” he said. “Print had been with us for over 100 years, no one was complaining about prints, they were very inexpensive, and so why would anyone want to look at their picture on a television set?


How did Polaroid end up bankrupt? They’re looking at either selling the company, or filing Chapter 11. They expect to default on over $30m of loan payments in the next few months. It’s easy to say that they were caught out by digital cameras, but it’s not that simple. I remember the early days of digital photography, around 1996-97. For a while, Polaroid were leaders in the field—the PDC-2000 was well-reviewed, and praised for its outstanding image quality.

Kodak gets stabbed in the back by Microsoft

It seems Kodak is the latest company to find out what happens when you get into bed with Microsoft. They worked with Redmond to improve Windows support for digital cameras—but they discovered that when you plugged a Kodak digital camera into Windows XP, it ignored the Kodak software and launched Microsoft’s software instead. Getting it to launch the Kodak software for your Kodak camera required a complicated nine-click crawl through system dialog boxes.

I’m annoyed at Kodak (again)

My photography is completely digital—except for the initial exposures, which I still do on film. This isn’t because I like film; it’s because I don’t have the cash for a digital camera with comparable resolution, and because color negative film has far better exposure latitude. Exposure latitude is very important to me, because everything I do is natural light. I just don’t like fill-flash, even when it’s exposed perfectly. It makes the photograph look artificial and flat.

Burning inside: CD-R and archiving data

Some people may wonder why my web site was left unchanged for over a year. Well, I’m engaged in a lengthy project to digitize my entire photo collection, using a Nikon film scanner to produce 3000×2000 scans direct from the negatives. Some of the images are decades old, and often the film has deteriorated and needs careful restoration. Color film in the 70s really wasn’t very stable, and these negatives haven’t been particularly well cared for either.