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Ciba AG (the name is a shortening of Chemische Industrie Basel) was a Swiss-based chemical company making synthetic dyes, founded in the late 19th century. The relevance of the company to photography is that it owned Ilford for some years.

Ciba bought some shares in Ilford, at that time still based in Ilford in Essex, in 1963;[1] most shares in the company were owned by ICI. The immediate benefit of Ciba's purchase was the application of their dye-bleach process to develop the Cibachrome printing 'paper'; the base of the material was in fact polyester; for printing positive colour images from transparencies. A new factory was built in Switzerland to make Cibachrome paper. Cibachrome was an attractive process to photographers, allowing printing from transparencies, which offered rich colours, without the need to produce an intermediate negative. The process was such that an advanced amateur could print with Cibachrome at home. The material was robust, and the colours stable over a long period.

Ciba bought ICI's shares in Ilford, taking complete ownership, in 1969. Ciba merged with J.R. Geigy, another Swiss chemical firm, to become Giba-Geigy in 1971. The UK headquarters of Ilford was moved in 1976 to Basildon (still in Essex) and again in 1983 to Mobberley, Cheshire, in the north-west of England, (where Harman Technology still operates). Ciba sold Ilford to International Paper Company in 1989. The Cibachrome products were renamed Ilfochrome in 1992, to reflect the change in ownership, and were produced until 2011.[1]

Ciba-Geigy merged with Sandoz to form Novartis in 1996;[2] however, some parts of the company have been separated off. Some were sold to BASF.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Company history at Ilford (not Harman).
  2. Company history (archived) at Novartis.
  3. Company history (archived) at BASF UK.