Kodak Files For Bankruptcy Protection

As predicted earlier this month, struggling photography pioneer Eastman Kodak has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection while it attempts to raise cash by selling off some of its more than 1,000 patents.

In addition to falling under the Chapter 11 umbrella of protection from its creditors, the company has secured a $950 million line of credit from Citigroup to get it through the next year and a half, by which point Kodak hopes to have crawled out from its pitiable position.

“This is a necessary step and the right thing to do for the future of Kodak,” the company’s Chairman said.

Kodak, whose name was once synonymous with cameras and film, was never able to make the rapid transition from film to digital photography in recent years. In just the last nine years, the company went from employing more than 63,000 people to only around 17,000, while its once sky-high market value of around $31 billion in 1996 now sits around $150 million.

Photography pioneer Kodak files for bankruptcy [Chicago Tribune]

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  1. Cat says:

    ‘Tis a sad day for a great American brand.

    Digital sounded the death of Kodak when they didn’t take the lead. And Walmart didn’t help by choosing to use Fuji products.

    • Rachacha says:

      Tis a Sad day for Rochester NY. There was something very sad about walking into a WalMart and I believe even Wegmans in Rochester in the mid 90s and seeing more Fuji film and the film processors using nothing but Fuji paper when the film and paper plants for kodak could be seen from the parking lot of the store.

      • elangomatt says:

        I’ve never had a personal attachment to Rochester NY like you, but the thing that made me sad about Fuji paper is I just never thought the picture quality was as good as what you got with Kodak paper. I know that has as much to do with the processor as the paper, but when I worked in a photo lab our pictures always looked better with Kodak paper/chemicals than the corresponding Fuji prints. I didn’t work for a specialty shop either, it was just a big box photo lab. Lots of people just flocked to Walmart to save the 50 cents to a dollar per roll.

      • Coles_Law says:

        Hey, they still have the University. And Nick Tahou’s. And Wegmans. Heck, Wegmans alone can draw a few hundred thousand. :)

    • MeowMaximus says:

      I lived in Rochester for most of my life. With the death (or at least severe reduction) of Kodak, and with Xerox having mostly left for sunnier, less union friendly climes, Ra-cha-cha is going to be a ghost town. I am very sad to see it happening.

    • MaytagRepairman says:

      They took the lead in 1975 by inventing it and taking a patent for it. And then just stood there at the starting line.

  2. bluline says:

    Innovate or die. Kodak failed to see the digital juggernaut bearing down on it, and they’ve paid the price.

    • Greg Ohio says:

      They saw it, but got creamed anyway. Canon simply beat them at their own game.

    • scoosdad says:

      Not entirely true. Sometime in the 90s they produced what was probably the world’s first portable LCD projector which revolutionized my job in a college AV department. Had a 640 x 480 resolution, probably about 300 lumens of brightness (the lamp in it was a Kodak slide projector bulb!), and had a 15 pin VGA connector on it. The LCD structure was so crude it was like looking at a picture through a screen door. We literally used the black grid area between the pixels to judge whether we had it in focus or not. A “good” unit arrived with about a hundred dead pixels scattered around the screen.

      People who were used to lugging around huge CRT monitors to show things in classrooms were in love with it instantly and forgave its shortcomings. Kodak built it deliberately to have the look and feel of a slide projector, which in a lot of cases this thing was replacing. It weighed about 10 lbs and was about the same size as a Kodak slide projector.

      One of its design flaws was a smoked plastic cover that slid horizontally over the lens to protect it during travel. People were constantly complaining that the image was dark, and I’d go take a look. First thing I’d see was the cover closed. Slid it open and it would instantly jump in brightness a hundredfold. If they had made that an opaque cover it would have been easier to detect that it was closed.

      I just did a quick search in Google to find a picture of it but came up empty. Kodak doesn’t even acknowledge on their website that they ever sold it.

    • OSAM says:

      Kodak started digital. Unfortunately that’s pretty much where they left it.

  3. elangomatt says:

    It was kind of sad watching the consumer film market start its decline while I was working at a one hour photo lab. I can’t say that I didn’t see this coming a long time ago though, I just thought it would have happened before now to be honest.

  4. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    I remember the Kodak Shack little drive up development drop off thing in the Woolworth’s parking lot, with it’s little yellow peaked roof.

  5. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    Irony being that the invention of the Digital camera (which is what bites into Kodak’s film and processing revenue) was, in fact, developed by a Kodak lab technician.

  6. powdered beefmeat says:

    As a wedding photographer I noticed Fuji film that was printed on Kodak paper was the magic bullet. Kodak was far superior with landscape shots however Fuji had more natural skin tones. It’s a matter of opinion but what makes me sad is that we are witnessing the death of “film” imagery. Regardless what brand, the medium is dying a slow death like George Lucas’s career.

  7. El_Fez says:

    While it’s usually hard to be sad for a Big Faceless Company, that’s not the case here. There’s a kind of emotional connection to Kodak for many people, because it was the company we entrusted our most treasured possession to – our memories. Even if you’re not a photographer, you have to admit that Kodak played a role in pretty much everyone’s life sometime in the 20th Century.

  8. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    I really don’t see them surviving, but I’m not an expert on their market, so what do I know? I will miss Kodak Gallery if they do disappear. It’s been an easy way for us to share photos with friends and family. When ordering prints from them, I’ve been happy with both the quality and price.

  9. valkyrievf2x says:

    I wonder how profitable their film department is. I mean, the R&D costs should have paid themselves off long ago. They don’t make new film emulsions anymore (except for the recent Portra films–gotta try em!!). A lot of their standard film fare has been in production for ages. I would think it would have long since broken even at least by now.

    It is a shame, though. I do like their film products the best, though.

    • OSAM says:

      Portra VC is a god-send. It’s wonderful stuff.

    • El_Fez says:

      Actually from what I’ve read, the film division is going strong. Kodak provides millions and millions of feet of film to Hollywood each year and the consumer end is still selling. Sure it’s a niche market, but it’s a profitable niche.

  10. samonela says:

    “RAPID” transition form film to digital??

  11. Kestris says:

    I love my Kodak cameras, but I actually priced out another brand yesterday at the store, because this was coming. This makes me feel dirty because I’ve only ever used Kodak.

  12. Jayrandom says:

    “My name is Eastmankodak, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

  13. blivet says:

    Kodak should hook up with the Impossible Project.

  14. majortom1981 says:

    Kodak does make some good easy to use digital cameras. Its just that stores wont carry them. a couple of months ago i went to a couple of different electronic stores to find a specific kodak digital camera. The latest one of kodaks high zoom and nobody carried kodak anymore. This camera was actually rated one of the best at that price point but nobody carried it.

    Kodak needs to get more places to actually carry there product and more advertising. Some of their digital cameras are actually pretty good.

  15. Lyn Torden says:

    I actually was dealing with Kodak back in the mid 1990’s trying to negotiate developing drivers for them to make some of their digital stuff work on Linux. They basically turned me down, NOT because it was Linux, but because they were saying it would be a couple more decades before anyone would want digital photography (I wanted it right then). Well, it’s almost a couple more decades now. I wonder if anyone wants digital photography, yet. I know, I’ll ask my two Canon DSLRs about it.

  16. Dallas_shopper says:

    Oh, the hours I spent mixing Kodak darkroom chemicals, printing by hand on Kodak paper, and using this weird contraption to make my own rolls of film from bulk rolls of Kodak Tri-X.

    I has a sad. :-(

  17. AllanG54 says:

    I feel sorry for the few people that bought their printers because they say that’s one of the first divisions that will be closed as they didn’t sell enough of them to make money on the ink refills as H-P does. But, this is what happens when you take Paul Simon’s Kodachrome away even though most movies are still shot on Kodak film.

  18. RickinStHelen says:

    This is sad for more of an emotional reason than an economic reason. In a way, it’s partly my fault. I haven’t bought fil in a decade. I put the decline on Kodak when they cranked out 110 and Disk cameras, thus teaching millions that crappy image quality was okay.

  19. parv says: