Kodachrome was a beautiful film– bright vivid colors, low grain and images that jumped out of the screen and filled the projection room with the awe of mountain landscapes, close-up portraits and children playing on backyard swings. After a successful 74-year run, Eastman Kodak announced in June 2009 that it would soon discontinue sales of Kodachrome. It’s interesting to take a look at both the history and science of this remarkable product.
Kodachrome was not the first color film (color photography had existed with techniques such as Autochrome and Dufaycolor), but Kodachrome was the first practical film for a mass audience. The inventors of Kodachrome, Leopold Mannes and Leopold Godowsky, met as teenagers. Both were fascinated by the popular Brownie camera, and both longed for a way to take color photographs themselves. The Leopolds were musicians by trade, but were invited to join Kodak in Rochester to realize their invention. They worked for Kodak for a number of years before both returned to their musical roots. Within the company this duo was known as “Man and God!” Mannes died in 1964, and Godowsky in 1983. After their deaths, both were inducted into the Inventor’s Hall of Fame.