The Pixel Party

Aaron Bare
3 min readMar 19, 2022

Kodak is an epic example of what happens on the ugly side of disruption. Kodak was a camera and film photography giant. In the 1990s, they had $19 billion in sales and over 145,000 employees worldwide.(60) Then the film industry became digitized with the advent of the digital camera. In 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy.

Here’s the unfortunate part of that story: Kodak invented the digital camera.

In the past, Kodak films documented the world. They were king in an industry with very little competition, and they kept innovating. One of the most notable innovations was the digital camera, invented by Kodak employee Steve Sasson in 1975. Digital technology can be deceptive at first, and Kodak was deceived. The resolution was a grainy 100 by 100 pixels (0.01 megapixels), a far cry from today’s 12-megapixel iPhone. (61) While Kodak later used digital camera technology in a high-end capacity, they ignored the consumer digital camera altogether, not wanting to disrupt their lucrative film business-a rather small way of thinking. Of course, the technology of the first digital cameras was crude, yet the exponential curve of innovation iterates quickly, and the technology accelerated from crude to superior in less than a couple decades.

The digital camera disrupted everything about how photos and films were done. First, it eliminated the need for film. Second, digital camera technology became massively popular, as each phone soon swallowed the technology of the digital camera and eliminated the need for a separate physical camera. The technology became democratized in every phone on the market. Third, as the world continued to move digitally, photos were shared digitally and were printed less often.

First Flickr and MySpace, then Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat proved to be the premier way to share photos. With everyone taking and sharing digital photos, for Kodak, it was a really bad time to be in the photo printing business.

When was the last time we printed a roll of film or even a photograph?

Dematerialization: Digital cameras launched, and photos immediately moved to the cloud. The camera itself disappeared into the phone. Now, even digital frames make photos immediately uploaded to Grandma’s credenza.

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Aaron Bare

Author of Exponential Theory. Founder of the Change Agents Academy. Learn more at (www.aaronbare.com).