Biography George Eastman's | Stroy Of George Eastman's | Ingenious Man

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He was a high school dropout, judged "not especially gifted" when measured against the academic standards of the day. He was poor, but even as a young man, he took it upon himself to support his widowed mother and two sisters, one of whom was severely handicapped.He began his business career as a 14-year old office boy in an insurance company and followed that with work as a clerk in a local bank.He was George Eastman, and his ability to overcome financial adversity, his gift for organization and management, and his lively and inventive mind made him a successful entrepreneur by his mid-twenties, and enabled him to direct his Eastman Kodak Company to the forefront of American industry.The youngest of three children, George Eastman was born to Maria Kilbourn and George Washington Eastman on July 12, 1854 in the village of Waterville, some 20 miles southwest of Utica, in upstate New York. The house on the old Eastman homestead, where his father was born and where George spent his early years, has since been moved to the Genesee Country Museum in Mumford, N.Y., outside of Rochester.When George was five years old, his father moved the family to Rochester. There the elder Eastman devoted his energy to establishing Eastman Commercial College. Then tragedy struck. George's father died, the college failed and the family became financially distressed.
George continued school until he was 14. Then, forced by family circumstances, he had to find employment.


His first job, as a messenger boy with an insurance firm, paid $3 a week. A year later, he became office boy for another insurance firm. Through his own initiative, he soon took charge of policy filing and even wrote policies. His pay increased to $5 per week.
But, even with that increase, his income was not enough to meet family expenses. He studied accounting at home evenings to get a better paying job.
In 1874, after five years in the insurance business, he was hired as a junior clerk at the Rochester Savings Bank. His salary tripled, to more than $15 a week.

Eastman did not make the Santo Domingo trip. But he did become completely absorbed in photography and sought to simplify the complicated process.


He read in British magazines that photographers were making their own gelatin emulsions. Plates coated with this emulsion remained sensitive after they were dry and could be exposed at leisure. Using a formula taken from one of these British journals, Eastman began making gelatin emulsions.
He worked at the bank during the day and experimented at home in his mother's kitchen at night. His mother said that some nights Eastman was so tired he couldn't undress, but slept on a blanket on the floor beside the kitchen stove.
After three years of photographic experiments, Eastman had a formula that worked. By 1880, he had not only invented a dry plate formula, but had patented a machine for preparing large numbers of the plates.
"The idea gradually dawned on me," he later said, "that what we were doing was not merely making dry plates, but that we were starting out to make photography an everyday affair." Or as he described it more succinctly "to make the camera as convenient as the pencil."
Eastman's experiments were directed to the use of a lighter and more flexible support than glass. His first approach was to coat the photographic emulsion on paper and then load the paper in a roll holder. The holder was used in view cameras in place of the holders for glass plates.
The first film advertisements in 1885 stated that "shortly there will be introduced a new sensitive film which it is believed will prove an economical and convenient substitute for glass dry plates both for outdoor and studio work."
This system of photography using roll holders was immediately successful. However, paper was not entirely satisfactory as a carrier for the emulsion because the grain of the paper was likely to be reproduced in the photo.
Eastman's solution was to coat the paper with a layer of plain, soluble gelatin, and then with a layer of insoluble light-sensitive gelatin. After exposure and development, the gelatin bearing the image was stripped from the paper, transferred to a sheet of clear gelatin, and varnished with collodion -- a cellulose solution that forms a tough, flexible film.
Eastman's faith in the importance of advertising, both to the company and to the public, was unbounded. The very first Kodak products were advertised in leading papers and periodicals of the day -- with ads written by Eastman himself.
Eastman coined the slogan, "you press the button, we do the rest," when he introduced the Kodak camera in 1888 and within a year, it became a well-known phrase. Later, with advertising managers and agencies carrying out his ideas, magazines, newspapers, displays and billboards bore the Kodak banner.
Space was taken at world expositions, and the "Kodak Girl," with the style of her clothes and the camera she carried changing every year, smiled engagingly at photographers everywhere. In 1897, the word "Kodak" sparkled from an electric sign on London's Trafalgar Square -- one of the first such signs to be used in advertising.
George Eastman wanted to simplify photography and make it available to everyone, not just trained photographers. In 1883, Eastman announced the invention of photographic film in rolls. Kodak the company was born in 1888 when the first Kodak camera entered the market. Pre-loaded with enough film for 100 exposures, the Kodak camera could easily be carried and handheld during its operation. After the film was exposed (all the shots taken), the whole camera was returned to the Kodak company in Rochester, New York, where the film was developed, prints were made, new photographic film was inserted, and then the camera and prints were returned to the customer.
George Eastman was one of the first American industrialists to employ a full-time research scientist. Together with his associate, Eastman perfected the first commercial transparent roll film which made possible Thomas Edison’s
He was born in Waterville, New York, and was self-educated.  In 1884 Eastman patented the first film in roll form to prove practicable; in 1888 he perfected the Kodak camera, the first camera designed specifically for roll film.  In 1892 he established the Eastman Kodak Company, at Rochester, New York, one of the first firms to mass-produce standardized photography equipment.   This company also manufactured the flexible transparent film, devised by Eastman in 1889, which proved vital to the subsequent development of the motion picture industry.  
Eastman was associated with the company in an administrative and an executive capacity until his death and contributed much to the development of its notable research facilities.  He was also one of theoutstandingv philanthropists of his time, donating more than $75 million to various projects.  Notable among his contributions were a gift to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and endowments for the establishment of the Eastman School of Music in 1918 and a school of medicine and dentistry in 1921 at the University of Rochester.

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