It was a simple promise, and a compelling one, at a time when photography was still in it infancy: “You press the button, we do the rest.”
With that, Kodak’s famous slogan made picture taking seem accessible to the masses in a way it never had been before. The 1888 ad campaign represented “a new impetus to the art among a class that has no time to dally with chemicals and develop the plates,” The New York Times wrote in 1890. “Now, every tourist feels that he must take a camera with him on his summer trip.”
There was enormous demand for new rollable film at the time, and manufacturers began producing some some 900 feet of it each day, the Times reported. In today’s terms, that number sounds paltry. People now upload something like 2 billion images every day. Humans have taken trillions upon trillion of photographs.
In just over a century, humans have gone from learning what film can do to largely abandoning it. Many photographers still swear by film, but digital photo-taking is the choice of the masses. And now, the only known box of Kodak Film (for use in the Kodak camera) in existence is sitting, unopened, in a collection of artifacts at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York.