For Immediate Release
Nov. 12, 2013
New book is a celebration of the best Kodak moments
of the last 50 years in electronic and digital technology
Insider and author K. Bradley Paxton had a front-row-seat for the
photo giant’s groundbreaking inventions … and also for what went wrong
Rochester, N.Y. — A new book about Eastman Kodak Co.’s role in the electronic imaging and the digital revolution has been written from the front-row seat of K. Bradley Paxton, PhD, former director of the Kodak Electronic Imaging Research Laboratories, who tells about the greatest Kodak moments of the modern era in the midst of Kodak’s reinventing itself in the digital world.
From the 1960s through the 1990s Kodak was an electronic-equipment powerhouse and digital pioneer — from the development of Cold War spy-camera technology and the Lunar Orbiter and mirrors for the Hubble Telescope to the invention of the first digital still camera, Photo CD, and early digitization and restoration of motion pictures, including Disney’s Snow White.
Paxton has titled his book Pictures, Pop Bottles and Pills: Kodak Electronic Technology That Made a Better World But Didn’t Save the Day (2013, Fossil Press, $15). In 143 pages he has described, in chronological order, electronic imaging technology developed by Kodak over the last 50 years and draws some conclusions about Kodak’s handling of “disruptive technology” — which threatened the large profits from film.
“This is largely the untold story of Kodak’s pioneering efforts in the field of electronic imaging during the last third of the 20th century that eventually set the stage for how people capture, enjoy, and share images today,” said Steve Sasson, a retired Kodak engineer who is credited as the inventor of the first digital still camera.
Paxton’s storytelling does not need the inclusion of the words “spoiler alert,” since it is widely known that Kodak, founded by George Eastman in 1880, filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection in January 2012. This deep look inside reveals a sad tale, since Kodak — which was once the most recognizable brand name in the world and long the global leader in still and movie film sales —was not successful in making the digital transformation it fueled. But at the same time, Paxton will wow readers as to how plentiful were the many stellar successes and Kodak moments of genius.
Yet another example is the first electronic imaging system (the Still Video System), which also transmitted images over phone lines, including news like the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Paxton and Kodak won an Emmy Award for creating that system, and he since donated the award and a complete outfit of the system to George Eastman House International Museum of Photography & Film.
Paxton weaves into his writing his opinions about where Kodak lost its focus, which he believes should have remained the business of picture-making. And that is the story behind the book title words “Pop Bottles” and “Pills,” whereas Kodak ran a chemical company and acquired a pharmaceutical company that each needed to be fed, competing with investing in the picture business.
“The ultimate business case on Kodak has yet to be written,” Paxton wrote, in what is the final sentence in his book, “but I look forward to discussing, analyzing, and learning more from those who will work on it in the future, possibly reading this book along the way.”
More in Paxton’s own words from the book Pictures, Pop Bottles and Pills:
“We should also note that the world is a better place because of all of the Kodak electronics technology developed over the last 50 years, even though it did not save the day for Kodak. Imagine a world without spy satellites during the Cold War, without the Lunar Orbiter and Apollo projects, without high-quality office copies, color electronic still cameras, or camera phones, without lithium batteries, compact camcorders, mega- pixel sensors, jpeg image compression, x-ray medical laser printers, optical discs, single-use cameras, do-it yourself photo kiosks, Internet access to creative photo products, sharp Hubble Space Telescope images, digital restoration of movies, movie special effects, HDTV movies scanned from film, or OLED displays (wait until you see them!). All that technology got a huge boost from Kodak efforts, and we are all better off because of those efforts.”
About K. Bradley Paxton
Brad Paxton’s 32-year career at Kodak included positions as general manager and vice president of both the Electronic Photography and the Printer Products divisions and as the director of Electronic Imaging Research Laboratories. He holds a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a master of science degree in applied mathematics, and a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Rochester. For the last two decades he has served as CEO of Advanced Document Imaging.
* Interviews with K. Bradley Paxton and a PDF of the book are available upon request.
* High-res photos of the book cover and the author and key images from the book are online: https://app.box.com/s/klxjn0w2zgmi1ypk8x6x
Dresden Public Relations Inc.