A Brief History of Kodak: The Rise and Fall of a Camera Giant

Kodak was once the 800-pound gorilla in the world of photography. But after a century of dominance, Kodak’s business crumbled and it was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2012. If you’d like to better understand what happened to the iconic brand, watch this great 12-minute video by the popular YouTube channel Company Man.

“The name Kodak was once synonymous with cameras and film,” Company Man writes. “They were innovators in the industry and the leaders of it for 100 years. Yet a few years ago they experienced such a decline that they were forced into bankruptcy. This video explores the decline of Kodak and attempts to explain what happened to them.”

After being founded by George Eastman in 1888 with its made-up name — Eastman was a huge fan of the letter k — Kodak became so dominant in photography that by 1976, 85% of all film cameras and 90% of all film sold in the US was Kodak.

That’s one year after a Kodak engineer invented the first digital camera — unfortunately, Kodak executives were convinced that “no one would ever want to look at their pictures on a television set.”

“Maybe we can change the way we perceive Kodak,” Company Man says. “Sure, they made some mistakes and today are just a shell of their former selves. But they had a good run. They revolutionized an industry and led that industry for a hundred years. They did some great things for photography, and maybe it was just their time to go.

“What they did best was no longer needed.”