Five years ago yesterday, Eastman Kodak took our Kodachrome away. On June 22, 2009, the company announced that, after seventy-four years of production, it would no longer make Kodachrome, the world’s first successful color film. This week, On Remand looks back at the camera film that gave us those nice bright colors and greens of summers, Kodak’s antitrust battles, a sordid suit involving Penthouse magazine photos, and a law student’s $100,000 case over two missing rolls of film.
After Kodachrome’s release in 1935, photographers quickly adopted it. No previous film had portrayed color as realistically as Kodachrome. As the film choice of professional and amateur photographers alike, Kodachrome captured key moments in vivid color: the Hindenburg explosion in 1936, Tenzing Norgay at the top of Everest in 1953, President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Don Draper’s wedding day. But by 2009, even Steve McCurry, the photographer chosen by Kodak to receive the last roll of Kodachrome film, had switched to digital. When McCurry — who captured the famous “Afghan Girl” photo for National Geographic magazine using Kodachrome film — finished the last roll, he hand-delivered it to the only place in the U.S. that could develop it: Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas….