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Whatever happened to Photo CD?

>> Thursday, May 3, 2007

Photo CD is an image format that never was very popular, despite being relatively cheap and offering great results. I know Photo CD mainly because it is a playable format on my CD-i player, but ofcourse it was a much broader format for Kodak, and CD-i was just one system it oculd be played on. The discs were compatible with Windows and Mac as well, and the encoding made the discs proprietary in format for Kodak. You can criticize Kodak for this, but thanks to this road Kodak maintained control over the format; it prevented Photo CD from being hijacked and corrupted by other firms.

From the start to the end Photo CD was meant to archive your images/photos on CD in different resolutions, and it was accessible from loads of applications. CD-i was just one application! Only in the USA you had over 140 producers of Photo CD (mainly photo processing labs). Maybe that's the first mistake of Kodak: selling the technology in the first place!

Without a doubt there a lot of distractors of Photo CD as well. Concerns about it being slow, low-res and wrong sizes are legitimate, but does it weigh against the pros it has?

Just as with other image technologies, Kodak kept on improving Photo CD by sending updates with the disc. This is how Photo CD improved drastically over the years, but it caused a lot of complains from companies who were producing Photo CD's that they had to invest a lot of money to keep on track with the updated Photo CD system. The bad side of this was probably that Kodak released the first version of Photo CD as version 0.9: This was a nearly complete system but in beta-status nonetheless.

Kodak made a few smart moves with Photo CD as well, like creating a consistent scanning technology of great quality (comparible with commercial usage), it can deliver a large number of scans and it was cheap. Photo Cd was very affordable for the consumer who was interested in digital scans. One Photo CD scan from a 35mm film only costed one dollar. Most labs created a full disc without any extra charges.

But, what Kodak did wrong with Photo CD was keeping the format away from image writers. I can understand the reason why they did this, but if you think about it, this was not a good idea. If the Image Pac was publicly available and we would have been allowed to encode images ourselves, then the format would be dominant these days. But now instead it's one of the obscure formats only supported by Photoshop and a few others.

One of the other blunders Kodak made with Photo CD was their decision to stop making the system (and selling it to third companies). True, they didn't really stop producing it, but they didn't bundle it anymore as a complete workstation. But without bundling the system, they made it difficult for the companies that bought the original systems to buy new ones and supplement their existing systems.

This was a real mistake because Photo CD has been an overwhelming success, especially to buyers of the system. But also Kodak should have been pretty happy with the results of Photo CD. The laboratories that were creating Photo CD's were ever growing. As Kodak was the only supplier of blanc Photo CD (while very overpriced!) the profit was over 30% according to an anonymous Kodak source. We're talking about 1992 when this was the case.

So actually Kodak pulled the plug from Photo CD and prevented it from getting the most popular image technology.

Kodak entered a venture with Microsoft to produce a new, consumer-oriented system called FlashPix. This was the first replacement of Photo CD. It failed miserably because it left out the commercial side of it. No effort was put into the technology to make it popular to the public, and the creative professional photographer. Without this market, FlashPix was doomed.

The latest effort by Kodak to make a photo/image disc format is Picture CD. This is a highly consumer-orientated system created in conjunction with Intel. Picture CD now is also compatible with most DVD players thanks to its license of the JPEG format. It's possible with Picture CD, as with Photo CD, to take a away your images to a laboratory and they will produce a disc with the images on it. Although nowadays, everyone will create it by themselves, as it's just a collection of JPEG files. What isn't possible is for the Picture CD to match the quality and diversity of the original Photo CD Image Pac. FlashPix couldn't do it, and Picture CD can't do it either. Probaly because both image technologies are aimed at consumers. Consumers typically don't care about the finer points of image quality.

Thanks to: Creative Pro

1 reacties:

sascha,  June 11, 2009 at 9:14 PM  

I liked the Photo-CD very much back then!

Here's an interesting site (unfortunatly german only as it seems):

there's "Kodak ACCESS 3.1 für Windows" which should at least play the Disc and even convert the pictures on them. Haven't tried it though. All i recall is that it worked perfectly and even out-of-the-box on my Mac (must have been OS 8.6 or 9.0) never had to do with OS X maybe it's worth a try if find some CDs lying around somewhere.

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3rd Degree - PF Magic
7th Guest, The - Philips Freeland Studios
Accelerator - SPC/Vision
Adventure of the Space Ship Beagle, The - Denshi Media Services
Affaire Morlov, L' - Titus
Alfapet - Adatek
Alice in Wonderland - Spinnaker
Alien Gate - SPC Vision
Alien Odyssee - Argonaut
Aliens Interactive CD-i - Dark Vision Interactive
Ange et le Demon, L' - Smart Move
Apprentice, The - SPC Vision
Apprentice 2, The - Marvin's Revenge - SPC Vision
Arcade Classics - Philips ADS / Namco
Asterix - Caesar’s Challenge - Infogrames
Atlantis - The Last Resort - PRL Redhill (Philips ADS)
Axis and Allies - CapDisc
Backgammon - CapDisc
Battle Chess - Accent Media (for Interplay)
Battleship - CapDisc
Big Bang Show - Infogrames
BMP Puzzle - Circle (for ZYX)
Brain Dead 13 - Readysoft
Burn:Cycle - Trip Media
Caesar's World of Boxing - Philips POV
Caesar's World of Gambling - CD-I Systems
Cartoon Academy - Bits Corporation
CD-i mit der Maus - SPC Vision
CD Shoot - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Change Angels Kick-off - HMO
Chaos Control - Infogrames
Christmas Country - Creative Media
Christmas Country - The Lost Levels - Creative Media
Christmas Crisis - DIMA
Clue - 3T Productions
Clue 2 - The mysteries continue - 3T Productions
Connect Four - CapDisc
Creature Shock - Argonaut (for Virgin)
Crime Patrol - CapDisc
Crow, The - Philips POV
Cyber Soldier Sharaku - Japan Interactive media
Dame was Loaded, The - Beam Software
Dark Castle - Philips POV
Dead End - Cryo
Defender of the Crown - Philips POV
Deja Vu - Icom Simulations
Deja Vu 2: Lost in Las Vegas - Icom Simulations
Demolition Man - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Demon Driver - Haiku Studios
Discworld - Teeny Weeny Games
Dimo's Quest - SPC Vision
Domino - Wigant Interactive Media
Down in the Dumps - Haiku Studios
Dragon's Lair - Superclub / INTL CDI
Dragon's Lair 2- Time Warp - Superclub / INTL CDI
Drug wars - Crime Patrol II - CapDisc
Dungeons & Dragons - PF Magic
Earth Command - Visionary Media
Effacer - CapDisc
Escape from Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Evidence - Microids
Falco & Donjon & The Sword of Inoxybur - BMi / Zephyr Studio
Family Games I - DIMA
Family Games II - Junk Food Jive - DIMA
Felix the Cat - Philips Sidewalk Studio
Flashback - Delphine/Tiertex (for US Gold)
Flinstones Wacky Inventions - Philips Funhouse
Fort Boyard: The Challenge - Microids
Frog Feast - Rastersoft

CD-i Games Index G-M

Go - CapDisc
Golden Oldies - SPC Vision
Golden Oldies II - SPC Vision
Golgo 13 - Japan Interactive Media
Great day at the races, A - CD-I Racing, Dove Films, Total Vision
Guignols de l'Info, Les - Canal+ Multimedia / INTL CDI
Heart of Darkness - Amazing Studio (for Virgin)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The - Philips Kaleidoscope
Holland Casino CD-i - HMO
Hotel Mario - Philips Fantasy Factory
Inca - Coktel Vision
Inca 2 - Coktel Vision
International Tennis Open - Infogrames
Jack Sprite vs. The Crimson Ghost - PF Magic
Jeopardy - Accent Media
Jigsaw - Novalogic
Joe Guard - DIMA
John Dark: Psychic Eye - CapDisc
Joker's Wild!, The - Accent Media
Joker's Wild Jr., The - Accent Media
Kether - Infogrames
Kingdom - The far reaches - CapDisc
Kingdom 2 - Shadoan - CapDisc
Labyrinth of Crete - Philips Funhouse
Laser Lords - Spinnaker
Last Bounty Hunter, The - CapDisc
Legend of the Fort - Microids
Lemmings - DMA Design / Psygnosis
Lettergreep - Wigant Interactive Media
Lingo - SPC Vision
Link - The faces of evil - Animation Magic
Lion King, The - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Litil Divil - Gremlin Graphics
Litil Divil 2: Limbo Years - Gremlin Graphics
Lords of the rising sun - Philips POV
Lost Eden - Cryo (for Virgin)
Lost Ride, The - Formula (Lost Boys)
Lucky Luke - The video game - SPC Vision
Mad Dog McCree - CapDisc
Mad Dog McCree II: The lost gold - CapDisc
Magic Eraser - Circle (for ZYX)
Mah-Jong - Japan Interactive Media
Making the Grade - 3T Productions
Man Before Man - Cryo
Marco Polo - Infogrames
Mario Takes America - CIGAM
Master Labyrinth - AVM AG/HQ
Mega Maze - CapDisc
Memory Works, The - Compact Disc Incorporated
Merlin's Apprentice - Philips Funhouse
Microcosm - Philips Freeland Studios
Micro Machines - Codemasters
Monty Python's Invasion from the Planet Skyron - Daedalus CD-i Productions
Mutant Rampage - Body Slam - Animation Magic
Myst - Sunsoft (for Cyan)
Mystic Midway - Rest in pieces - Philips POV
Mystic Midway 2 - Phantom Express - Philips POV

Compact Disc Interactive

Compact Disc Interactive

Games N-Z

Name that tune - Philips Fantasy Factory
New Day - Bits Corporation
NFL Hall of Fame Football - Philips POV
Othello - HMO
Pac Panic - Philips ADS / Namco
Palm Springs Open - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Pool - SPC Vision
Pinball - CapDisc
Plunderball - ISG Productions
Power Hitter - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Power Match - Two's Company
Pursue - BEPL
Pyramid Adventures - Compact Disc Incorporated
RAMRaid - PRL Redhill
Return To Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Riddle of the Maze, The - Fathom Pictures
Riqa - Bits Corporation
Rise of the Robots - Mirage Technologies
Sargon Chess - Spinnaker
Scotland Yard Interactive - AVM AG/HQ
Secret Mission - Microids
Secret Name of Ra, The
Shaolin's Road - Infogrames
Skate Dude - Viridis
Smurfen, De - De Telesmurf - Infogrames
Solar Crusade - Infogrames
Solitaire - BEPL
Space Ace - Superclub / INTL CDI
Space Ranger - Studio Interactive
Special Operations Squadron - SPC Vision
Sport Freaks - SPC Vision
Star Trek - Philips POV
Star Wars: Rebel Assault - LucasArts
Steel Machine - SPC Vision
Striker Pro - Rage
Strip Poker Live - Greenpig Production
Strip Poker Pro - Interactive Pictures
Super Fighter - The Super Fighter Team / C&E
Super Mario's Wacky Worlds - NovaLogic
Surf City - Philips Sidewalk Studios
Tangram - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Taco's Toyroom Troopers - Creative Media
Tankdoodle - Creative Media
Tetris - Philips POV
Tetsuo Gaiden - Creative Media
Text Tiles
Thieves' World - Electronic Arts
Tic-tac-toe - BEPL
Tox Runner - ISG Productions
Treasures of Oz - Philips Kaleidoscope
Ultra CD-i Soccer - Krisalis
Uncover featuring Tatjana - SPC Vision
Uninvited - Icom Simulations
Video Speedway - ISG Productions
Vinnie the Pinguin - Pandemonium Labs
Voyeur - Philips POV
Voyeur 2 - Philips POV
Whack-a-Bubble - Creative Media
What's it worth - Marshall Cavendish Multimedia / Spice
Who shot Johnny Rock? - CapDisc
Wordplay - BEPL
World Cup Golf - US Gold
Zaak Sam, De - Toneelschool NL
Zelda - The wand of Gamelon - Animation Magic
Zelda's Adventure - Viridis
Zenith - Radarsoft
Zombie Dinos From The Planet Zeltoid - Philips POV

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