Archives System

Megapixel transfer stand

With the SV9600 Transceiver, the research labs had created a compression algorythm (similar to jpg, but pre-jpg) called Transbit. The algorythm compressed video images to a small size for sending over phone lines. In late 1988, there was discussion of licensing this technology and how they might roll it out.

Of course, I had a blue-sky idea to suggest. It made sense to me to pitch it first to organizations that dealt with large numbers of images, like ImageBank, Getty Images, and the Eastman House. What I proposed was assembling the necessary equipment into a package for photo agencies. Film and print scanners, to digitize their collections, optical disks to store the images, compression/decompression hardware for Transbit encoding/decoding (a board product that plugged into a PC or Mac). slide, print and overhead printing capability and custom configured workstations for handling images. These various archive services would have searchable digital databases of images, that could be searched via dialup, and a digital copy, slide, print or overhead of the images could be purchased. Kodak would receive a small fee for the use of the Transbit code for each transaction. Kodak makes money on the sale of equipment and materials, plus Transbit fees, and the archive organzation makes money on the sale of images, prints, slides, and overheads. And with copyrighted images the photographer receives a commission from the agency.

It seemed like a rock solid idea to me. However, Carl, my supervisor's supervisor explained to me why it would never work. He said, "That would require multiple Kodak divisions to work together." In actuality, Kodak divisions were structured to compete. I believe it was another reason it was so hard to move technology forward, other divisions would try to get any new product that might eat into sales of their existing products, killed. Take the SV5035 Slide to Video Device for example, it was killed because they feared Ektagraphic Slide Projectors might see a decline in sales. Which probably was true, but more likely it was the decline of the number of photographers capturing and presenting on slide film.

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Peter's Digital Photography Journey @ Kodak