June 24, 2009--
"Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away."
Perhaps Paul Simon, who sang those words in 1973, saw it coming—Kodak announced Monday that Kodachrome color film will be discontinued after a 74-year run. The first commercially successful color film has been eclipsed by the popularity of digital technology, the company said in a statement.
In the summer of 1937, National Geographic
magazine photographer W. Robert Moore took the first Kodachrome shots for the publication while on assignment in Austria
(above, cattle herders in Mayrhofen, Austria). (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)
The new technology allowed Moore to capture action photography in color on 35mm film, a previously impossible feat.
When magazine editors processed Moore's photographs, "everyone just went wild over them," recalls lab technician B. Anthony Stewart in the book The National Geographic Society: 100 Years of Adventure and Discovery.
The "iridescence" of color was "just something that color photographers had never dreamed of," Stewart said.
The demise of Kodachrome came just three days before a National Geographic exhibition, "Kodachrome Culture: The American Tourist in Europe"
, opened in the society's Washington, D.C., headquarters.
The exhibit, which will run until September 7, 2009, shows Americans' burgeoning fascination with vivid color photographs of Europe
Photograph by W. Robert Moore