ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Sorry, Paul Simon, Kodak is taking your Kodachrome away.
The Eastman Kodak Co. said yesterday it's 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 it convinced Kodak to call its most recent manufacturing run the last, said Mary Jane Hellyar, the outgoing president of Kodak's Film, Photofinishing and Entertainment Group.
The company now gets about 70 percent of its revenue from its digital business, but plans to stay in the film business "as far into the future as possible," Hellyar said, pointing to seven new professional still films and several new motion picture films introduced in the last few years.
Kodachrome, because of a unique formula, didn't fit in with the philosophy and was made only about once a year.
Simon sang about it in 1973 in the aptly titled "Kodachrome."
"They give us those nice bright colors. They give us the greens of summers. Makes you think all the world's a sunny day," he sang. " . . . So Mama don't take my Kodachrome away." *