This week in 1937

Last month the national press was full of obituaries for much-loved camera company Kodak, with the announcement of its long-rumoured bankruptcy. Some of the more simplistic analyses talked of a failure to keep up with the modern digital revolution and to innovate in an everchanging marketplace — all while neglecting to mention Kodak’s role in pioneering the charge-coupled device (CCD) imaging sensor and resulting digital camera in the 1970s.

In fact, Kodak was heavily involved in the cutting edge of photometry and microscopy research for consumers and industry over a period of more than 60 years.

Indeed some of this took place at a state-of-the-art facility in Harrow, north London, as the 5 March 1937 edition of The Engineer reports.

‘The research laboratory has been erected and equipped for the purpose of pure research into the physical and chemical phenomena connected
with the photographic industry,’ the article reads.

“The laboratory has been erected for the purposes of pure research”

While a large part of this research effort was dedicated to Kodak’s now defunct film-processing techniques, much of it was connected with the engineering behind lenses and optics — something digital cameras are still heavily reliant on for top-end image quality and resolution.

The picture above shows a lens mounted on brick pillars. According to The Engineer: ‘These pillars are carried right through the floor and are joined to the ferro-concrete foundation system of the building. This mounting, which is used for various pieces of delicate apparatus used in the physics and photometry rooms on the ground floor, has the advantage that it is, as far as possible, proof against vibration or distortion.’