At the 1993 Fall PMA show, LaserMaster (now MacDermid ColorSpan) introduced an economical avenue for photo labs to enter the large-format printing market with the 36-inch DisplayMaker printer.
The '90s also saw the development of a host of new products that bridged the gap between silver halide and digital imaging. Photo CD technology led the way by offering the first universally standardized platform for digitizing silver halide photos.
In 1995, consumer digital cameras hit the market, and two years later megapixel models were introduced. In 1996, the Advanced Photo System (APS) was introduced to help reignite the photo/imaging industry. While the fresh new format offered smaller easy-to-use cameras and drop-in loading, it never caught on with the consumer.
Photo kiosks allowed consumers to make prints of both their digital and traditional photos. It was a new source of revenue for photofinishers. In 1998, the digital minilab was introduced, which let retailers output images from a host of different formats. Konica showed the first of these with their revolutionary QD-21 at PMA in New Orleans. In a matter of minutes, consumers could have their images processed and put online to share with family and friends.
As we entered the next millennium, industry analysts were reporting that Eastman Kodak wasn't making a speedy-enough conversion to the new digital profit model and that online companies would take over the photofinishing business. At one point there were over 100 online photo processing companies. In a few short years, many of them were on the financial ropes, having discovered that they didn't have a proper business model. After 9/11, many of these firms were out of the business.
The industry also saw a resurgence of photography after 9/11, as Americans sought to capture the moments in their lives that mattered most.
From 2000 to 2002, emerging companies such as Applied Science Fiction and Phogenix pushed the digital envelope with new technologies and products. While neither company is around today, both helped take imaging to the next level. The year 2003 saw the rise of digital kiosks, with more than 20 companies showing product at PMA. Noritsu introduced their dDP-411 dry digital minilab system. It was a big hit with retailers looking for an economical way to get into digital with limited floor space and none of the concerns associated with wet systems.
In 2004, PMA reported digital camera sales had surpassed traditional camera sales for the first time. 2004–05 also saw sales of camera phones come on strong in the U.S.
The scrapbooking market reached the $3 billion mark, and designated supplements to appeared irst in 2005 to help dealers profit from this lucrative new market.
As you can see, in the past 70 years, we as an industry have witnessed many exciting technological advances. There have been some bumps in the road, but we continue to thrive as long as the technological advances as those previously mentioned continue to take place. For all we know, there's someone working in a lab right now with plans for a new technology that will one day replace digital. You never know—anything can happen (I'm still waiting for the flying cars). Either way, will be there, reporting on whatever that new technology might be, "as the fire keeps burning, as the world keeps turning."
The Industry Continues to Evolve
By Ted Fox, Executive Director, PMAI
Congratulations to on its 70th anniversary. Over those seven decades our industry has evolved in a number of significant ways:
- In the '50s, we transitioned from black-and-white film processing to color.
- In the '60s, instant photography arrived, as well as the 110 Instamatic camera.
- The '70s brought 35mm photography to the masses—helped by Canon's widely popular AE-1 SLR.
- The '80s accelerated the growth of 35mm with the introduction of point-and-shoot lens/shutter cameras. Minolta helped simplify 35mm photography even further with its autofocus SLR—the Maxxum. The '80s also saw a flood of new entrepreneurs entering the fledgling one-hour photo processing market.
- In the '90s, one-hour processing became ubiquitous as mass retailers added this service in their chains.
- Finally, the early years of the 21st century have arguably brought more changes to our industry—through the introduction of digital photography—than all the trends in the previous century combined.
Throughout the years, has covered these trends and helped our industry adjust and prosper. PMA is proud to be the trade association of photo imaging retailers and processors worldwide, throughout all of these milestones that PTN has chronicled. The main goal of PMA is to help its members expand their consumer, commercial, and industrial markets, and increase their profitability. As a nonprofit organization for more than 80 years, any success enjoyed by PMA in its endeavors directly benefits the industry, as it allows PMA to provide additional services and activities for members.
Without question, the instrumental figure in creating and maintaining PMA's vital role in serving the photo imaging industry was Roy S. Pung, former executive director of PMA, who passed away in August 2004. He served as its chief executive officer from 1970 until his retirement in 2003. Roy's contributions to the association and the industry were countless. Under his leadership, the association prospered to more than 20,000 members in 100-plus countries, with an annual convention that typically draws 25,000 to 30,000 attendees. He earned the highest PMA honor in 1996, when he was named recipient of the prestigious PMA Hall of Fame Award.