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View Poll Results: Rapid Rise of Fast Photo Processing - Year?
2008 0 0%
1998 4 17.39%
1988 4 17.39%
1978 12 52.17%
1968 3 13.04%
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"Rapid Rise of Fast Photo Processing" - Year?
Old 09-27-2018   #1
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"Rapid Rise of Fast Photo Processing" - Year?

Here's an article from the NY Times on the explosion of new fast film processing business (read it and weep). Can you guess the publication decade? ( 2008 , 1998, 1988, 1978 or 1968 ) ?

I'm not linking to the article because that would give away the date but you can easily find it by searching for the title on the google


Rapid Rise of Fast Photo Processing

[...] the number of so-called one-hour photo processing shops is growing rapidly nationwide, spawning a fundamental change in the $4.5 billion retail photofinishing industry. And the increasing availability of smaller and cheaper automated film-processing machines is likely to continue the trend, according to people in the industry.

''It's blossoming like crazy,'' said Lydia Wolfman, author of the Wolfman Report on Photographic and Imaging Industry in the United States, an annual publication. ''It's such a convenience for people to drop it off and in one hour get good prints. It's a big part of the industry now.''


Mini-labs now account for a third of the photofinishing industry, and some experts think they will continue to proliferate, capturing about two-thirds of the market. Others think their spread will slow but that more large retailers will add them.


Indeed, the K Mart Corporation equips selected stores with mini-labs. A host of camera shops is beginning to offer mini-lab services. And Moto Photo Inc., a large mini-lab owner and franchiser, is negotiating with a restaurant chain about combining fast prints with fast food. .. the figure had risen to about 14,700 at the end of last year, according to the Photo Marketing Association, which tracks the industry.


In pre-mini-lab days, people would typically take their film to a drugstore, grocery store or camera store and wait several days for their prints. While they waited, the film was delivered to an outside lab, developed en masse with thousands of other rolls and rushed back. 'An Instant-Gratification Society'


In years past, mini-labs had a reputation for low-quality prints. But executives in the industry said quality had improved in recent years. A study of the photofinishing industry, Consumer Reports ranked mini-labs that used chemicals, paper and other accessories sold by the Eastman Kodak Company of Rochester the highest in picture quality. The two chains of one-hour shops that were included in the study, CPI and Fox Photo, finished fifth and 11th, respectively, in a field of 18.

Others in the study included large wholesale photofinishing firms and mini-labs that use other brands of equipment or chemicals. The newer ''washless'' mini-labs that use a dry chemical process finished near the bottom. One-Hour Shops Charge More

One-hour shops generally charge several dollars more to develop a roll of film than the average wholesale operation does. At 1 Hour Foto in Manhattan, customers pay $10.90 for the development of a 24-exposure roll of film and one set of prints. At Mystic Color Lab, a large mail order concern based in Mystic, Conn., the charge is $5.95, although the customer must wait several days.

Owners of one-hour shops said mini-labs could be bought for between $30,000 and $125,000. Most mini-lab manufacturers - the largest include Copal Systems Inc. of Plymouth, Minn.; the Noritsu American Corporation of Buena Park, Calif., and Kodak - also allow people to lease mini-labs. Factors in Profitability

The profitability of each shop depends on many factors - real estate costs, financing costs, labor costs and local competition. But Michael F. Adler, chief executive of Moto Photo, said that under ideal circumstances a shop could remain in the black by processing 25 to 30 rolls a day.

A mini-lab can be operated by one person, but space is a key requirement. Most mini-labs take up between 50 to 60 square feet of floor space. Next-generation mini-labs are likely to be smaller. It is expected that they will eventually fit on a table top and be even easier to operate.
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Old 09-27-2018   #2
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Just about the time I moved across the country to the Pacific Northwest, so 1978.
So I will find out how faulty my memory is, or if I haven’t gone completely potty yet.
Next poll should be “When did the 1-Hour lab die”.
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Old 09-27-2018   #3
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I remember dropping film off at the local grocery store in the late 70ís but not in the late 80ís so my guess is 1988.
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Old 09-27-2018   #4
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I was involved in 1980, so I'd guess the first were 1978.
Noritsu mini-lab.
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Old 09-28-2018   #5
Ian M.
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My guess is 1978--not from experience, but from working on my thesis on suburban architectural typologies. That was about the time the Foto-mat and others went in decline, ostensibly because drugstores/department stores/camera shops bought mini lab setups.

As for the death of 1-hour photo? Hard to pin, since I've mostly shot BW. I found in my old work some old Pan-X developed at Fred Meyer (a NW Kroger subsidiary) as late as 2003.the old camera shop I worked at was doing 1-hour color+prints as late as 2008.

As for drugstores? I developed a few test rolls at the Walgreens on Broadway and Pine in Seattle around 2013, picked up unprinted and uncut same day. Don't know if they still do; the Genessee and Rainier store near me still takes film, but only does up to 11x17 digital prints onsite.
Ian M., Seattle
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Old 09-28-2018   #6
robert blu
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I think '78...I remember bringing my films to develop...but time sometimes confuses my memories... and I love in Italy...

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Old 09-28-2018   #7
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In the UK , I’m guessing the peak of the digital mini-lab roughly coincided with APS film around the turn of the century.
Prior to that only a few consumer orientated trained operator C-41 mini-lab one hour operations.
For a long time before there were large networks of drop film off before 10am and collect by 4pm or next day/week operations ( where a big regional D&P lab ran the film and print business ).
It's the weird colour scheme that freaks me. Every time you try to operate one of these weird black controls, which are labeled in black on a black background, a small black light lights up black to let you know you've done it.
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Old 09-28-2018   #8
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Peak minilab would have been from the 80’s through the 90’s.
I worked for Kodak from 1981 to 1998 and and they got into the minilab business in the mid 80’s and were pretty much out of it by the late 90’s.
I used to install and service the minilabs along with all the other Kodak photofinishing equipment.
The first models were rebadged Noritsu and Copal units with EK tweaks.
Then came the EK designed and built gear and then some hybrid combo’s of both in house and rebadged gear.
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Old 09-28-2018   #9
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The city I grew up in got about a dozen Fotomats in 1977 or 1978. We had one across the street from my high school. I never used them because they were more expensive than the local Bi-Mart, and I could wait for the next day to get my pictures. Bi-Mart also had Kodachrome developing in four days for even less than the cost of developing and prints. However, a policeman who spoke to my driver's ed class said that one hour developing really helped him get arrest warrants in a hurry on a couple of occasions.

1917 No. 1A Autographic Kodak Junior
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1969 Canon New Canonet QL17-L
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1980 Pentax Auto 110
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