George Eastman

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George Eastman (b 12 July 1854, Waterville, New York – d 14 March 1932, Rochester, New York) was an American inventor and the founder of Eastman Kodak, through which he propelled photography from an expensive specialised activity into a part of daily life. He is now celebrated as the father of popular photography.

  • 1860: Family moves to Rochester.
  • 1862: His father, George Washington Eastman, dies.
  • 1868: George leaves school and works at an insurance company to support his mother and sisters, and helps his mother run a boarding house.
  • 1874: Works in a bank, well paid at $1,400 a year. When he is not promoted, and a relative of a bank director gets the post, he resigns, and concentrates on photography.
  • 1878: buys a photographic outfit - becoming fascinated by photography. The weight of the equipment, and complexity and effort required to prepare emulsions, coat and process the glass plates spurs Eastman to experiment with making plates at home, and research simpler ways to prepare and develop photographs.
  • 1879: Opens a small factory for plates.
  • 1880: invented and patented a dry-plate coating machine.
  • 1881: formed the Eastman Dry Plate Company, with Colonel Henry A. Strong.
  • 1884: a new Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company, with Eastman as treasurer, Strong as president and W. H. Walker as secretary, patents and manufactures roll film along with a roll film holder which could attach to plate cameras.
  • 1888: Kodak camera introduced - together with the word "Kodak".
  • 1888: Eastman engages Henry M. Reichenbach to research transparent substitutes for the paper film base - resulting in celluloid film.
  • 1892: Company renamed "Eastman Kodak Company"
  • 1900: "Brownie" camera introduced, price $1, to a design commissioned from Frank A. Brownell by Eastman
  • 1925: Retires from Kodak, and began to travel extensively - in the US and Africa
  • 1927: helps founding Kodak Pathé in France

Eastman was very successful in business, and gave away vast sums for education, arts, parks, health and other charities, and bequeathed most of his fortune to the University of Rochester. Part of this legacy became the George Eastman Museum.