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Why Prints?

Back in 1990, I worked on the PR team that created publicity materials for an exciting new product: the Kodak Photo CD. The scientists who developed the technology showed me dozens of exciting applications for this high-resolution digital format. Many of these have come to pass, and today, more than a dozen years later, you can drop your pictures off at many retail photofinishing outlets and receive an inexpensive Picture CD (as it’s now called) along with your prints. Professional Photo CDs are an important option for photographers who want to distribute their portfolios electronically in a format that allows both previewing of low-resolution prints and sale of “locked” high-resolution versions.

However, one of the most hyped capabilities of Photo CD technology never caught on. The prototype Photo CD players I looked at were cool enough. You could flip through your Photo CD albums at high speed on your own television screen, zooming in to view interesting details, moving back and forth in slideshow fashion. Plans were to have inexpensive printmakers attached to the Photo CD player to make hardcopies. By the 21st century, families would view their snapshots clustered around their television or home entertainment center. Certainly, prints would still be made, but viewing pictures on the TV would soon be the most popular mode.


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