No Kodak moment for bankrupt legendary camera maker

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Iconic camera maker Kodak filed for bankruptcy as it struggles amid an industry that technology has drastically changed

MANILA, Philippines – Iconic camera and film maker Eastman Kodak Co. filed for bankruptcy on the evening of Wednesday, January 18 (Thursday in Manila) as it struggles amid an industry that technology has drastically changed, Reuters reported.

In a statement, chairman and chief executive Antonio M. Perez said, “The board of directors and the entire senior management team unanimously believe that this is a necessary step and the right thing to do for the future of Kodak.”

The bankruptcy filing, a sad but expected since 2011, is a move to request protection from creditors as it tries to transition to a digital imaging company from its heydays as an iconic film maker. 

A few days before its bankruptcy filing, it obtained a $950 million, 18-month credit facility from Citigroup to keep it going. It hoped to cash in on its over 1,000 patent portfolio.

Kodak is a 120-year-old company and had once been among the preeminent companies and symbol of better times in the U.S. It was the Apple or Google at its time.

Its demise has been considered an end of an era when American innovation and invention was seemingly ubiquitous. It used to employ up to 145,300, then had let go of thousands as cashflows tightened amid sluggish sales. Reuters reported that it had difficulty meeting the pension and other benefits of its workers and retirees since 2007.

George Eastman founded the firm in 1888 after inventing dry, transparent, and flexible, photographic film and the Kodak cameras that could use the new film.

In 1975, Kodak invented the digital camera that takes black-and-white images at a resolution of 10,000 pixels (.01 megapixels). However, it failed to leverage its own innovation, not wanting to cannibalize their own product line.

This opened an opportunity for other brands started to emerge as the digital technology further evolved. By the time it decided to play the digital game, it was too late to catch up. –

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