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10 Worst Business Decisions Ever Made


9
Kodak Sits on Digital
Eastman Kodak unveiled an Olympic Games commemorative limited edition compact digital camera in 2004. Now, they're out of the camera business. © ISSEI KATO/Reuters/Corbis
Eastman Kodak unveiled an Olympic Games commemorative limited edition compact digital camera in 2004. Now, they're out of the camera business. © ISSEI KATO/Reuters/Corbis

Say cheese! For over 100 years, Kodak was synonymous with photographs. Founded in 1880, the New York-based company commanded 90 percent of the film market by the late 1970s, 85 percent of the camera market, and it employed over 60,000 people [source: Gustin].

In 1974, during Kodak's corporate dominance, one of its engineers, Steve Sasson, started fiddling with a gadget called a charge-coupled device, or CCD. In time, he figured out how to use the CCD to translate light into the digital language of 1s and 0s. A year later, he successfully built the world's first digital camera, a clunky box that could produce a 100,000-pixel image, the equivalent of 0.01 megapixels [source: Cheung].

Kodak instantly recognized the potential of the device to revolutionize photography and invested billions in its development, but conservative forces within the company stalled the release of a digital camera, afraid to abandon the film-and-paper product line that had brought it untold riches [source: Gustin]. By the time Kodak finally shifted to digital in the late 1990s, the megapixel revolution had long passed it by.

After laying off more than 50,000 employees, Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2012 and announced that it was dropping its failed digital camera line entirely. It now concentrates on printer cartridges and film for motion pictures [source: Daneman].


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