Department Chair

Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D., Professor of History

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

History, M.A.


History and Social Studies Education Department


Kenneth S. Mernitz

Department Home page

First Reader

Kenneth S. Mernitz

Second Reader

Steve Peraza


The focus of this thesis is to provide an expanded interpretation of the decline of the Eastman Kodak Company. Kodak is a company synonymous with cameras, pictures, and photography. The American photographic giant created a vast empire that was able to dominate the industry for the better part of the Twentieth Century. Yet, it missed the opportunity to develop its digital camera technology. This makes Kodak an interesting study in business decision making in the face of advancing disruptive technology.

In a historical context, there is a lack of work that deeply inspects the fall of the Kodak company in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. The small amount of work available focuses on a narrow explanation for the decline of the company. A closer look reveals a more nuanced story that includes institutional restrictions coupled with a changing consumer electronics culture and business model.

In this thesis, Kodak’s lack of desire to create a consumer market for digital photography is presented as a major misstep in the history of the company. It is not the aim of this work to exonerate or remove blame from the Kodak company for their actions. This thesis, drawing from primary documents found in the Eastman Kodak archives housed at The University of Rochester, aims to bring new ideas and explanations to the conversation. The argument presented should serve as an expansion of currently available interpretations which place singular blame on Kodak’s reliance on film profits for their downfall.