George Eastman (1854-1932)

"You press the button, we do the rest" - the Eastman Kodak slogan that meant what it said. What he did was take the art of photography away from being a specialized trade and made it something anyone could do. The word "Kodak" he invented to describe his camera and the simple system it used. The cameras were affordable and the film was easy to develop, unlike wet plate photography which required special procedures, chemicals and equipment.

"The idea gradually dawned on me, that what we were doing was not merely making dry plates, but that we were starting out to make photography an everyday affair."

His early Kodak cameras and in 1900, the $1 box camera called the "Brownie" made his company a worldwide name. The film inside was cellulose acetate with silver halide grains imbedded in a gelatin layer that reacted to light quickly and predictably. The camera contained a roll that could hold 100 pictures, when you were done taking your pictures you would mail your camera in, the pictures would be developed, the camera was reloaded and then sent back to you. The process was affordable and easy.

Although there is some dispute as to who invented cellulose backed flexible roll film, and who can claim responsibility for inventing it, Eastman was the one who brought it to the masses.

Eastman died by his own hand. In his mid 70s he started getting sick and rather then spend the rest of his life disabled, he committed suicide on March 14, 1932. He never married but made it a point to donate his money while he was alive. According to Eastman, "the progress of the world depends almost entirely on education". He left a $52 million legacy to University of Rochester. He donated to the Rochester Institute of Technology, MIT, The Tuskegee Institute, The Hampton Institute and he founded the Eastman School of Music. He also donated money to medical institutions around the world.

Thomas Edison and George Eastman (early 1900s)

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