ORWO was an East German manufacturer of photographic film
Photographic film
Photographic film is a sheet of plastic coated with an emulsion containing light-sensitive silver halide salts with variable crystal sizes that determine the sensitivity, contrast and resolution of the film...

 and magnetic tape
Magnetic tape
Magnetic tape is a medium for magnetic recording, made of a thin magnetizable coating on a long, narrow strip of plastic. It was developed in Germany, based on magnetic wire recording. Devices that record and play back audio and video using magnetic tape are tape recorders and video tape recorders...

. The basis for ORWO was the Agfa
Agfa-Gevaert N.V. is a European multinational corporation that develops, manufactures, and distributes analogue and digital imaging products and systems, as well as IT solutions. The company has three divisions. Agfa Graphics offers integrated prepress and industrial inkjet systems to the...

Wolfen may refer to:In geography:* Wolfen, Germany, a town in Saxony-Anhalt, GermanyIn fiction:* The Wolfen, a 1978 horror novel by Whitley Strieber...

 plant, where the first modern colour film with incorporated colour couplers, Agfacolor
thumb|An Agfacolor slide dating from the early 1940s. While the colors themselves hold up well after 60 years, damages visible include dust and [[Newton's rings]].Agfacolor is a series of color photographic products produced by Agfa of Germany...

, was developed in 1936.

On 20 April 1945, following the fall of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the plant was taken over by US forces and important patents and other documents regarding the Agfacolor process were confiscated and handed over to Western competitors, such as Kodak and Ilford
Ilford Photo
Ilford Photo is a manufacturer of photographic materials known worldwide for its black-and-white film and papers and chemicals, as well as its range of Ilfochrome and Ilfocolor colour printing materials. Ilfochrome was formerly called Cibachrome, developed in partnership with the Swiss company...

. As the plant was located in what was to become the Soviet zone of occupied Germany, the US forces then handed it over to Soviet Military Administration, which dismantled large parts of the plant and moved it, with key German staff, to Soviet Union, where it formed the basis for the Soviet colour film industry.

In 1953 the plant became the property of East Germany, and in a trade agreement settlement, the East German company, VEB Film- und Chemiefaserwerk Agfa Wolfen, was given the right to sell its products under the Agfa brand in Eastern Europe, while the newly re-established Agfa in West German Leverkusen
Leverkusen is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany on the eastern bank of the Rhine. To the South, Leverkusen borders the city of Cologne and to the North is the state capital Düsseldorf....

 had the right to the name in the rest of the world.

As the trade agreement seriously hampered the East German company's abilities to sell in the West, the ORWO trademark (for Original Wolfen) was introduced in 1964. ORWO branded 35mm colour slide film
Transparency (photography)
In photography, a reversal film is a type of photographic film that produces a positive image on a transparent base. Also known as dias or slide. The film is processed to produce transparencies or diapositives instead of negatives and prints...

 became available in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 in the 1970s through magazine advertisements for mail order suppliers. It was a cheaper alternative to the mainstream brands available at the time.

Following the merger of East Germany and West Germany, the company was privatised in 1990. After two bankruptcies a new company, FilmoTec GmbH, was formed in 1998, which continues to manufacture a reduced range of former ORWO products, specialising in cine film. Some products are re-branded and sold by Maco
Maco (film company)
Maco is a Germany based supplier of photographic films including old 127 size film....


External links

  • ORWO films (in English or German)
  • See also BASF
    BASF SE is the largest chemical company in the world and is headquartered in Germany. BASF originally stood for Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik . Today, the four letters are a registered trademark and the company is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange, and Zurich Stock...

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