Story Behind Inventors and Inventions Color Film
About the origins, history and story behind the scenes of the inventor and invention of color film.
Extraordinary Stories behind Ordinary Objects That Had to Be Invented by Someone
Invention: Color film
Inventors: Leopold Godowsky, U.S.; Leopold Mannes, U.S.
How Invented: The first color film for use in an ordinary camera was marketed under the name Kodacolor by the Eastman Kodak Company in 1935. Yet little is ever said about the inventors--two concert musicians who spent long hours in the Kodak laboratories timing their experiments by singing songs of a precise length.
Godowsky and Mannes met as young music students at the Riverside School in New York. They shared both an ambition to become concert musicians and a fascination with photography. Their first attempt at photographing color was to superimpose three separate images, using the three primary colors, onto one print. The experiment failed to provide quality results, and in 1921 they turned to a chemical approach in an effort to "capture all the colors of the rainbow on a single piece of film."
Their costly experiments were financed with the proceeds from concert performances. A Wall Street company took an interest in their work and provided $20,000 in backing. This in turn attracted Dr. C.E.K. Mees, a research director at Eastman Kodak, who provided them with equipment and chemicals at cost. After they had experimented for nine years in their home laboratories, Dr. Mees brought them to the Kodak Laboratories in New York. Professional scientists at Kodak resented the chamber music that Godowsky and Mannes played in the laboratories and referred to them as "those crackpots." But by 1935 they had perfected the tricolor chemical process, and color film was in mass production.
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