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Kodachrome film to roll into history

The iconic color film is processed at just one commercal lab. The iconic color film is processed at just one commercal lab. (Getty Images)
Associated Press / June 23, 2009
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ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Sorry, Paul Simon, Kodak is taking your Kodachrome away.

The Eastman Kodak Co. announced yesterday it is retiring its oldest film stock because of declining customer demand in an increasingly digital age.

The world’s first commercially successful color film, immortalized in song by Simon, spent 74 years in Kodak’s portfolio. It enjoyed its heyday in the 1950s and ’60s but in recent years has nudged closer to obscurity: Sales of Kodachrome are now just a fraction of 1 percent of the company’s total sales of still-picture films, and only one commercial lab in the world still processes it.

Those numbers and the unique materials needed to make Kodachrome convinced the company to call its most recent manufacturing run the last, said Kodak’s Mary Jane Hellyar.

“Kodachrome is particularly difficult [to retire] because it really has become kind of an icon,’’ Hellyar said.

The company now gets about 70 percent of its revenue from its digital products, but plans to stay in the film business “as far into the future as possible,’’ Hellyar said. Kodak has released seven professional still films and several new motion picture films in the last few years.