Eastman Kodak Company announced today that it will retire Kodachrome colour reversal film this year, after 74 years on the market.

The slide film was the first successful colour film on the market, storming the market in 1935 and quickly becoming a favourite of documentary and amateur photographers.

However, sales of Kodachrome now account for "just a fraction of one per cent" of Kodak's total sales of still-picture films, according to the company.

End of an era

Kodachrome is unique in that it uses a completely different processing techniqes than most other (E6) colour films.

Only one laboratory in the world still processes Kodachrome - Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas - and they have confirmed that they will continue to offer processing for the film until the end of 2010.

"It was certainly a difficult decision to retire it, given its rich history," said Mary Jane Hellyar, President of Kodak's Film, Photofinishing and Entertainment Group. "However, the majority of today's photographers have voiced their preference to capture images with newer technology, both film and digital. Kodak remains committed to providing the highest-performing products – both film and digital – to meet those needs."

See how she kept saying "both film and digital"? Although Kodak is far from the dominant force in photography it once was, and is widely acknowledged to have under-estimated the speed of uptake of digital technology, the company now derives about 70 per cent of its revenues from digital businesses.

Kodak estimates that current worldwide supplies of Kodachrome will last until early this autumn at the current rate of sales.