History of 8mm Film
History of 8mm Film
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History of 8mm Film

By Christian Roemer

8mm film is cool. I think the only reason that I’m allowed to say that is because I’ve never actually had to deal with it.

From my vantage point, it checks all the rad, “vintage” boxes.
In my mind, it’s a novel format that’s admittedly outdated, it looked absolutely awesome, it feels mysterious somehow, and most of all, it made making home movies possible.


The Kodak Eastman company releases 8mm film to the public. This format consists of tiny frames of film that are eight millimeters wide. That’s where it gets it name! When it was released, it was video only--sound wouldn’t come until later. Interestingly 8mm film came out after 16mm film. The reason 8mm film became popular was because it was smaller than previous home film formats, and it was cheaper too.

Early 1960s 

With the invention of new types of projectors, it was possible to show movies with sound. So, the Kodak company added that feature to its 8mm film format. The sound would be recorded on a tiny magnetic strip next to the perforations. Neat!


Super 8 film hits the market. Super 8 film was also 8 millimeters wide, which made it really similar to previous formats. The biggest difference was that, instead of canisters and reels like previous 8mm formats used, Super 8 was easily loaded in cameras because it came in cartridges instead.

Early 1990s 

Kodak stops making 8mm film under the Kodak name. VHS was too strong.

The history of 8mm film isn’t really all that interesting, all things considered. It basically hit the market as an alternative to the popular format of the time, 16mm. It was smaller, more compact, and didn’t sacrifice on quality. For the time, 8mm film was a revelation! It made home movies possible, where before, the only way you could make home movies is if you were super wealthy and could hire a film crew.

8mm film brought videography to the masses.

Unfortunately, it also had its drawbacks. Because it was regular film, it was light sensitive. You had to be very careful when loading and unloading the camera. Also, since the film came in reels, you also had to make sure to load everything properly. You truly had to work for your home movies.

Ultimately, 8mm film would fall out of favor when more user-friendly formats were invented. Super8 really knocked regular 8 off of its perch, then VHS blew everything out of the water. But, for a small, glorious time, 8mm film reigned supreme and filmed some really important things in its heyday.

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