Camera Pioneer Kodak files for Bankruptcy
19 January 2012
US camera pioneer Eastman Kodak, which brought photography to the masses over a century ago, has filed for bankruptcy protection.
Kodak has applied to a New York court for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which shields it from creditors while the company restructures.
It said that it had obtained a £615m loan from Citigroup which will allow it to continue trading.
The bankruptcy protection could give the company time to find buyers for the patents - key to its remaining value - and reshape the business.
The 130-year old company, which dates back more than a hundred years, was a pioneer in introducing photography to the public.
But it has been struggling to keep pace with the digital age and years of poor performance had already forced it to lay off 47,000 employees and close 13 manufacturing plants since 2003.
In its prime, Kodak shares topped $80 in 1996 - just at the outset of the digital photo revolution that eventually replaced the need for consumers to buy Kodak film, once a virtual monopoly in the US market.
The bankruptcy filing places the jobs of Kodak's 19,000 remaining employees at risk. At its height in the 1980s, it had 145,000 workers.
Founded in 1892 by inventor George Eastman, Kodak developed handheld "Brownie" cameras that were sold at popular prices and furnished the film that would keep consumers pumping profits into the company for decades. It was also famous for "Kodak Moment", its advertising catchphrase for its film.
Ironically, it pioneered research into digital photography beginning in the mid-1970s. But it was Asian manufacturers that stole a march in that market in the 1990s as Kodak failed to see the need to break from its old business lines.
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