George Eastman was a combination of innovator, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He was the founding father of the Eastman Kodak Company, which changed the conceptștiiștiiștiiștiiștiiștiiștiiștiiștiiștiiștiiștiiștiiștiiștiiștiiștiiștiiștiiștiiștiiștii It was his creation of roll films and the Kodak camera that simplified and popularized photography for the masses. In contrast to the majority of other inventors, he also possessed a keen commercial sense. By mass-producing his inventions and continuously improving his products, he not only amassed millions of dollars but also made photography accessible to the masses. Simultaneously, he employed a “razor-and-blade” strategy; he sold his cameras at a very low profit, but retained a substantial profit margin on films, chemicals, and papers. However, he also had a large heart and was a kind employer, unlike many other industrialists. Eastman Kodak was the first American corporation to provide profit-sharing to its employees. In addition to dropping out of school, he gave millions of dollars to educational institutions and healthcare facilities.
Youth and Early Life
George Eastman was born on July 12, 1854, in Waterville, New York, and spent his early years on a vast farm owned by his parents, George Washington Eastman and Maria (Kilbourn) Eastman.
In Rochester, his father George Washington also administered the Eastman Commercial College. He was compelled to spend time in both Rochester and Waterville. Therefore, George was left in his mother’s care for the majority of the time.
As his health began to decline later in 1860, George Washington sold the farm and moved his family to Rochester. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1862, leaving the responsibility of his three children to their mother. In order to make finances meet, Maria Eastman began housing borders.
Additionally, Eastman had two older sisters named Ellen Maria, and Katie. Katie was confined to a wheelchair at a very young age after contracting polio. Her death in 1870 left her family devastated.
Young Eastman was enrolled at a Rochester public school. However, due to financial constraints, he was unable to complete his education. At 15 or 16, he quit school to become an office boy at an insurance business. However, he finished his study privately, and in 1877 he began working as a bookkeeper at Rochester Savings Bank.
George Eastman’s Career
Although working as a bookkeeper alleviated some of George Eastman’s financial issues, he aspired for more. By 1877, he had saved enough money to take the first step in his real estate career, which he quickly decided to pursue.
At the time, land speculation was booming on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. George Eastman chose to personally inspect the location. To record his trip, he purchased a camera. However, the trip did not occur, and he kept the camera with him.
Eastman became an ardent photographer very quickly. In those days, photographing was a laborious process. The cameras of the day were cumbersome, and the wet plate technology was similarly cumbersome. Neither was the newly developed dry plate technology very convenient. As a result of being inspired by British Journal of Photography, he began to enhance it. George Monroe and George Selden, from whom he learned a great deal about photography, also supported him in this venture.
Eastman began experimenting at home and quickly created a process in which gelatin and silver bromide were applied to glass plates. In 1879, he patented the coating machine and process in England. In September 1879, he made a similar request in the United States, but it was not granted until April 1880. Next, he sold his English patent in order to establish a plate manufacturing facility in Rochester.
Next, Eastman considered replacing the glass plate with paper. He had gelatin and other photographic chemicals applied to the surface. The resulting film was then wound onto spools. Then, he replaced the paper with a clear film. He obtained patents for both of these products in 1884.
In the same year, George Eastman and William H. Walker devised a roll holder that was lightweight and compatible with any camera. Likewise, this invention was patented in 1886 under US Patent 317049. The invention simplified outside photography.
In 1888, Eastman invented the camera that was portable and easy to operate. It was only $25 and included 100 exposure rolls of film. Initially, photographers were obliged to return the camera along with 10 bucks after the film roll was complete. The firm would clean the film and return the images to the clients. Their tagline became “You Push the Button, We Do the Rest.”
Eastman then invented transparent flexible film, which the business began manufacturing in 1889. This innovative invention marked a turning point in the evolution of the film business.
Gorge Eastman founded Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester in 1892. In addition to the Rochester factory, the corporation also had one in Harrow, England. First, Eastman held the post of General Manager. Later, he resigned to focus on his humanitarian endeavors, but he remained the company’s treasurer. Eventually, he became the President and Chairman of the Board.
Beginning in 1897, Eastman developed a number of innovations. The business introduced the Kodak pocket camera in 1897, the Kodak folding camera in 1898, and the Brownie camera in 1900. The final one was intended for children and cost $1 per unit.
The company began manufacturing non-curling film in 1903. Historically, films had a tendency to curl, which caused processing difficulties. Kodak’s non-curling films were instrumental in resolving these issues to a great extent.
When World Military I began in 1914, Kodak Laboratories joined the war effort under the direction of George Eastman. The United States could develop its own chemical sector and become independent of German supply thanks to their support.
In addition, he created unbreakable glass lenses for military gas masks and specialized cameras for aerial photography.
1928 was a significant year for George Eastman as well. The marketing of color films, which nearly changed the photographic industry, began this year.
Very quickly, his Eastman Kodak Company became one of the world’s leading corporations. By the year 1900, three thousand people were employed in his factories. In 1920, there were fifteen thousand people. The company continued to expand even after his passing. In 1976, it controlled 75% of the camera market and 90% of the roll market in the United States.
His Notable Works
The invention and production of roll film and the Kodak camera are George Eastman’s two most enduring contributions. These inventions made photography a hobby accessible to the masses.
Works for Charity
George Eastman was the first businessman to give profit-sharing to his workers. Additionally, he gave individual gifts to the employees.
He founded Eastman Trust and Savings Bank in 1911.
Rochester’s Center for Governmental Research was founded by him in 1915 with the goals of “getting things done in the community” and “keeping residents informed.”
George Eastman gave a considerable sum of money to construct a free dental dispensary for Rochester’s children in 1917 because he believed that for children to grow up healthily, they needed healthy teeth. Later, its name was changed to Eastman Dental Dispensary.
In 1918, George endowed the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music.
In 1921, he donated funds to establish a dental and medical school at the University of Rochester.
In addition, he made substantial contributions to the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and to the construction of various buildings on the second campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In addition, George Eastman made substantial contributions to Tuskegee University and Hampton University. These are two historically significant African-American colleges in the United States.
Eastman’s generosity recognized no boundaries. In 1926, he contributed two hundred thousand pounds to a London dental clinic. Later, it became part of Royal Free Hospital. Now, it offers free dental care to disadvantaged city children.
Honors and Accomplishments
1930 saw George Eastman receive the American Institute of Chemists Gold Medal.
In 1954, the United States Postal Service released a commemorative stamp commemorating the centennial of George Eastman’s birth.
Personal History and Legacies
George Eastman never married and hence had no family of his own. However, he was quite close to his sister’s family and had a platonic relationship with George Dickman’s wife, Josephine Dickman.
He was also quite close to his mother, Maria Eastman, who had practically raised him on her own. In 1907, when Maria passed away, George was inconsolable and unable to stop grieving. Kilbourn Theater, located within Rochester’s Eastman Theatre, has been named in her honor.
In the latter two years of his life, George Eastman suffered from a spine ailment that was not only excruciatingly painful but also gradually rendering him unable to work. George committed suicide by shooting himself in the heart on March 14, 1932.
In his farewell note, he wrote, “Dear Friends, my work is completed – Why wait? GE.” Later, he was interred at Kodak Park in Rochester, and the University of Rochester received his whole inheritance. His former residence, the Eastman House, is now a National Historic Landmark.
Roll film was invented by George Eastman, who received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution.
In appreciation of his enormous contributions and support, the Rochester Institute of Technology has named a campus after him, and MIT has placed a plaque on one of the buildings he supported. Additionally, the University of Mississippi has named an auditorium after him.
Estimated Net worth
George is one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs and is ranked among the most prominent entrepreneurs. According to our research, Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, George Eastman has an estimated net worth of $1.5 million.
The term Kodak is devoid of meaning. George Eastman, in consultation with his mother Maria, chose the name Kodak for their company because he believed the letter K represented power. In addition, the name was distinct and did not like any other.