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Kodak to stop making cameras, digital frames

David Duprey/Associated Press/File 2005

Steven J. Sasson, an Eastman Kodak project manager, showed the prototype digital camera (left) he built in 1975, along with the EasyShare One digital camera.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Eastman Kodak Co. will stop making digital cameras, pocket video cameras, and digital picture frames.

Founded in 1880, Kodak was known all over the world for its Brownie and Instamatic cameras and its yellow-and-red film boxes. But the company was battered by Japanese competition in the 1980s and was later unable to keep pace with the shift from film to digital technology.

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The Rochester, N.Y., company, which sought bankruptcy protection last month, will phase out the product lines and look for other companies to license its brand for them.

Through the 1990s, Kodak spent some $4 billion developing the photo technology in most of today’s cellphones and digital devices. But a reluctance to ease its heavy reliance on film allowed rivals like Canon Inc. and Sony Corp. to rush into the fast-emerging digital arena. The immensely lucrative analog business Kodak worried about undermining was virtually erased in a decade by the filmless photography it invented.

Today, the standalone digital camera faces stiff competition, as smartphone cameras gain broader use. Kodak owns patents that cover a number of basic functions in many smartphone cameras.

Kodak sees home photo printers, high-speed commercial inkjet presses, workflow software, and packaging as the core of its future business.

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