When you hear the name Kodak your thoughts immediately go to photo albums and home movies. As well it should! Though there were many different companies that participated in the birth of photography and film, Kodak was the one that entered the public conscience. In fact, it became so ubiquitous that the brand itself was used as a verb, like how today any internet search is “Googling.” While researching for my master’s degree, I regularly came across mentions of figures such as the Princess of Wales “Kodaking” in the 1900s. Its almost amazing to think that this giant is on the verge of bankruptcy.
Sorting through my family’s collections, my thoughts went to what photography means to a genealogist. Every image holds a wealth of knowledge – faces, locations, relationships. Maybe you’ll be lucky and someone will have written a name, place, or event on the back side. These snippets can become threads, and those threads all contribute to the greater story of a family’s history. Moving images of 8mm home movies give the opportunity to see those relationships and personalities in action.
Today’s changing technology hasn’t changed the importance of images, only transformed the way we access them. Its a shame that Kodak management didn’t quite embrace that fact and stood still in comfort, instead of embracing innovation. I do have some hope for the future of the company. The fact that they invented the digital camera does show that invention and improvement are still one of Kodak’s assets, they only need leadership that will exploit this in the ways that George Eastman did, instead of licensing or selling them off.