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February 18: Kodachrome

February 18, 2016

Mannes+and+Godowsky+001Leopold Godowsky, Jr., a concert violinist who joined with another musician, Leopold Damrosch Mannes, to develop Kodachrome film, died at 82 on this date in 1983. Their experimentation began in 1917, when they saw a movie advertised as a color film and felt dissatisfied with the color. They designed their own movie camera and projector with colored lenses, which they patented but could not develop into a commercial project. It took another thirteen years and several more patents before the Kodak company invested in their work, and by 1935, Kodachrome 16mm movie film was on sale, followed by 35 mm and 8 mm film the following year. Godowsky (on the right in the photo) was the son and namesake of a great concert pianist, and married Francis Gershwin, the artist who was sister of George and Ira Gershwin. Mannes (on the left) was the part-Jewish grandson of conductor Leopold Damrosch, and his parents were the founders of the Mannes College of Music in New York. Mannes and Godowsky were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2005.

“They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don’t take my Kodachrome away.” —Paul Simon, “Kodachrome”