Eastman Kodak Co.

When Eastman Kodak Co. introduced their coupler-incorporated chromogenic print process in 1942, it became nearly synonymous with the 20th century color snapshot (Chromogenic characterization). These prints are still manufactured today and were the first “consumer-oriented mass production negative/positive color print process” (ibid). They produced fiber base color prints from color negatives and were simple, cheap, and easy to make. What was innovative about the process was the use of coupler-incorporated negative film and print materials, and “by 1960, color photography overtook black and white in the U.S. amateur photofinishing market” (ibid). Kodacolor was the first color negative film intended for making paper prints.

Chromogenic photography is based in silver halide technology, “so much so that color prints are often referred to as silver halide prints in industry” (ibid). Oxidized developer is used to create images with color dyes. It should be noted that Eastman Kodak Co. was not the first to create color images, with the introduction of Agfacolor Neu, a chromogenic color transparency process, in 1936 by Agfa predating it. Unlike Kodacolor though, Afgacolor Neu was used only for making positive projection prints on 35mm film (Laveldrine 212). Also, as early as 1906 German chemists were recognizing “the potential of oxidized developers in producing a photographic color image”, though known were able to successfully create a process. The problem was that “the diffusion properties of dyes within a gelatin layer were dependent on the shape of the dye molecule, and that long molecules did not easily diffuse”. Agfa solved this problem by developing and patenting “dye couplers with long carbon chains attached to keep them in place in the gelatin binder”, which is what produced Agfacolor Neu. Kodak was able to combat this problem by keeping “shorter carbon tails on the dye couplers, making them water insoluble and oil-soluble” and then “dissolved these dye couplers in a resinous binder, which was then dispersed as tiny droplets in the gelatin emulsion”. This is the process that Kodacolor used at its introduction in 1942.

Weaver, Gawain & Zach Long. Chromogenic Characterization: A Study of Kodak Color Prints, 1942-2008. Topics in Photographic Preservation, vol. 13, 2009.

Laveldrine, Bertrand, and John McElhone. Photographs of the Past: Process and Preservation. Getty Publications, 2009.