The world thinks I'm some sort of Nikon whiz. Actually I have more experience with Minolta. I only got my first Nikon in 1979. I've had a section on Minolta for years.
1962: I was born. This year a Minolta, not a Hasselblad, flew on the USA's first manned spacecraft. Hasselblad didn't get into the picture until seven years later.
1973: I buy my first camera as an 11 year old kid. It was a Minolta 35 mm SLR.
1974: I upgrade to my ultimate dream camera, the Minolta SRT-102.
1985: Minolta invents the autofocus SLR.
2001: I buy the Minolta scanner I use today for my medium format photography.
2002 - 2005: Digital changes everything. Computers and digital cameras get better and replace film for journalism and personal photography.
19 January 2006: Minolta gives up. They sell their digital SLR camera business to Sony. Minolta gives up completely on film and compact digital cameras. This completes as of March 31st, 2006. Minolta will still make SLR lenses to support the SLRs made by Sony with the Minolta mount.
Minolta and Konica merged a few years ago. Konica was one of, if not the world's largest makers of film and paper. They invented the minilab. They're giving up, too. They stop making film and paper as of 31 March 2007. All their sales staff evaporates as of 30 September 2007. Noritsu will be handling minilab service as of 01 April 2006.
I'm unsure if film scanners come under Minolta's photo division which is quitting. Minolta is one of the world's best makers of optical measuring instruments, light meters and industrial optics. I'm sure where the line between copy machines, which stay, and film, which goes, lies.
See the press release here.