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Re: filmscanners: open and control



Brian wrote:

>Eastman did _not_ evade Talbot's patents, as they had expired by the time
he got into the photo business. At that time British patents lasted 16 years
and I believe that Talbot invented his Calotype paper negative process about
1849.

1849 sounds about right to me (possibly earlier), without looking it up on
Internet Time. :-) I carefully chose the words "circumvented" (not "evade")
and "other patents" because I frankly don't know *what* patents might or
might not have been infringed, evaded, dodged, or circumvented--but *do*
know that Eastman and/or Kodak was not above doing it (see: Polaroid Land
Corp. v. Eastman Kodak Co., c.1985). :-)

In turn-of-the-century USA, there was a certain amount of "lattitude" in the
enforcement of patents, and some of it was right out of the "Wild West!"
(Example: Colt's constant court battles to protect his six-shooter). My old
Kodak "No.2 Bullet" box camera (dated 1895) was designed to take both glass
plates and roll film. I don't know who held the patents for roll film at the
time, since several inventors were working on it (it's widely credited to
Eastman), but the Model 1 Kodak ("String") Camera, made by Frank Brownell
for the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Co. c.June,1888, used a paper-based
emulsion and was factory-loaded with a 100-picture roll that was returned to
the factory for development and printing. My 1895 Bullet is clearly designed
to hold a removable 101-size film roll, which was developed c. 1891-1895
(this I *did* have to look up--nb: my Britanica gives numerous dates, not
*all* of which could possibly be right). George Eastman probably bought the
patents for this process outright. Thomas Edison promptly used the invention
to develop his kinetiscope, and the patent disputes with the Lumieres and
others over *that one* are legendary, too. ;-)

> I think Ansco were killed by the fiasco of "Anscochrome" colour film. As I
understand it this was brought out in the fifties.

Ansco was a "player" in US photography for a very long time, though never as
big as Kodak. Starting with a camera & supply manufacture begun in 1842 by
Edward Anthony, it merged with Scovill & Adams in 1902 and the name
shortened to Ansco in 1907. It then merged with Agfa Kamerawerke in 1928 and
became Agfa-Ansco. In later years, this became GAF, which is still a power.
I have a 1910 "Dollar" box and a plastic "hotpix 110" pocket camera that I
bought new in 1994. So they're still around, but seeing the name "Ansco" is
a real rarity, anymore. Agfa film is still popular--except among some
filmscanners. ;-)

> As for US-made cameras being killed off by Kodak, I think it is much more
a case of them being wiped out first by the Germans and then the Japanese.

That bit of "common knowledge" is probably very oversimplified. Kodak had a
virtual monopoly on cameras and film for the US Armed Forces during WWII
(that's not to say other cameras weren't used, because they were). During
that time, I'm told, it was possible for competitors to ease into the market
because Kodak was busy elsewhere. Universal Camera was one, Argus was
another (both strted in the late 30's). Bell & Howell had acquired a nitch
in movie cameras, projectors and camera supplies. And Ansco, of course.

After the war, Kodak was fat & sassy, beefed up by the government contracts,
and quick to go after their lost market share. Universal was the first to
go--Kodak simply quit making film for their little compact movie camera!
They made a stereo camera as late as 1954, but it nevery really caught on.

Argus had almost "ruled the roost" for reasonably-priced 35mm with its
C-Series "bricks" (Kodak did have the very good Retina, which was smaller,
lighter...and German-made; and the Ektra-- these were in very short supply
and cost $300 in the 1940's--the eauivalent of $3000 or more in today's
economy). In the late 40's/early 50's, Kodak brought out a series of small,
light, cheap 127 and 35mm cameras, and Argus lasted until about 1961 as a
manufacturer. This was about when well-made Japanese cameras started
appearing in the US (the Germans a little earlier--they didn't have to
reverse-engineer anything). But it would be a stretch to say that's what
forced Argus out, any more than that's why Kodak didn't make a good camera
after the Retina. They just didn't keep up--for whatever reasons. Hubris,
I'd call it, for want of a better word.

As for Bell&Howell, their nitch was more secure than the others, and they
continued to make movie cameras and the "Cube" slide projector into the
1980's--I have one. I can also state from experience that their service
policies resembled the horror stories we've recently discussed about our
scanners, and their business followed that poor service--right into the
toilet. Whether they manufacture anything today, I couldn't tell you.

And so, Boys and Girls, the point of my story is, "Whatever Goes around,
Comes around." Last winter, Kodak laid off 400 workers in Rochester (and
Rochester is a *bad* place to be out of work in the winter-time!)... more to
follow. So is this an argument for "Open" or "Control?"  I don't know. No
matter how much you control, be you a Kodak or a Microsoft, you can't
control it *all*.

I think it's an argument for "Be Bold, Be Responsible and Watch Your Back!"

Best regards--LRA

PS--And thanks, Brian, Dick, and others, for making me look this stuff
up--with my HP down (op cit), I needed some *real* work to do! ;-)


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