Collage Created by Ed Supovitz
Leopold Mannes

American Jewish Inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame


Leopold Mannes: Inducted into
the National Inventors Hall
of Fame-2005

by Seymour”Sy” Brody

Leopold Mannes was an American Jewish inductee into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, in 2005, for his discovery of color photography, jointly with Leopold Godowsky, Jr. Their United States Patents were 1,007, 493, “Color Photography,” which was issued in April 1935 and the other was 2,304,940, "Color Photography" which was issued in December 1942.

He was born on December 26, 1899, in New York City. He was the son of Clara, nee Damrosch and David. Leopold Mannes and Leopold Godowsky, Jr., were teenage friends and they felt cheated when they saw a Prizma Color movie, titled “Our Navy.” The quality of the color was very poor. They decided to work together to build a color movie. While they were still in high school, they build a movie camera and projector, each had three lenses fitted with red, blue and yellow filters. They received a patent for this invention, but it was not a commercial viable process.

After high school, Mannes went to Harvard to study the piano. He received a Pulitzer Music Scholarship and a Guggenheim fellowship to study music composition in Italy, in 1926. While he was studying at Harvard, he was in constant communication with Godowsky, who was studying at UCLA and playing the violin professionally with the Los Angeles and San Francisco orchestras.

Mannes was on a ship going to Europe to perform, where he met a senior partner in the investment firm of Kuhn, Loeb and Company. He told him about the progress that he and Godowsky had made in color photography. A few months later, Lewis L. Strauss, an associate of Kuhn, Loeb and Co., visited him at his apartment to view the progress that they had made with color photography. With their financial backing, Mannes and Godowsky built a laboratory, in 1924 and they took out patents on some of their completed work.

Eastman Kodak Corporation was so impressed with their accomplishments that they contracted Mannes and Godowsky for them to move to their laboratories, By 1933, they and the Eastman Kodak research staff had developed a marketable three-color emulsion process for color home movies. In 1935, this 16mm color film was released for sale and in 1936, Kodachrome 35 mm color still film and 8 mm color movie film were released for sale.

After his discovery of Kodachrome, he returned to performing as a pianist and he composed musical pieces. His parents had founded the Mannes College of Music and he served as president.

Leopold Mannes composed a number of musical pieces which included: Three Short Pieces for Orchestra, 1926, Incidental Music for Shakespeare’s Tempest, 1930, String Quartet, 1928, and Suite for Two Pianos, 1924.

Leopold Mannes died on August 11, 1964, in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts


For additional information, contact
Special Collections and Archives
S.E. Wimberly Library


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Last updated 12 December 2008