In April 1880 George Eastman leased the third floor of a building on State Street in Rochester, NY and began the commercial manufacture of dry plates. Thus an American icon was born. In 1930, Eastman Kodak was added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average index and it remained part of the index for 74 years, until April 8, 2004.
Kodak did not become a verb – like Xerox and Google did – but it became a brand as American as apple pie. After all, we know a Kodak moment when we see one. On January 4th, 2012, Kodak announced that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Its stock price hit an alltime low of 37 cents, unimaginable for a former Dow Jones company.
I don’t know what happened, but there must have been somebody inside Kodak in the last 10 years that stood up and said that digital photography was a passing fad that would never take hold. Yet, in just a decade, film followed the path of type writers, sliderules and horse and buggies. A product used by billions of people for more than 100 years is no longer used – at all.
I sincerely hope that this century-old company can pull out and see another day and create new products and jobs.