Who Was George Eastman?


Quick Answer

George Eastman was the inventor of the Kodak camera. He lived from 1854 to 1932. His invention brought photography to the public, making his Eastman Kodak company the largest U.S. company in the photo industry.

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George Eastman was born in Waterville, New York, in July 1854. In his 20s, Eastman began researching how to make photography lighter and easier for common people to use. He developed a gelatin-based paper film and way to coat dry plates, paving the way for cameras to become smaller and less expensive.

In 1888, after integrating a roll-holder device co-invented with William Hall Walker, Eastman launched the Kodak Company. In 1889, the company developed a flexible film that could be inserted by the camera user. The film found application by Thomas Edison in the new motion picture industry. This, combined with the launch of the "Brownie" camera in 1900, launched the Kodak company to the highest echelons of American industry. By 1905, one in three American households owned a Kodak camera.

Within his company, Eastman implemented novel concepts such as employee profit sharing and stock options. He also became a philanthropist. Eastman committed suicide by gunshot in 1932 after years of degrading health, diabetes and increasing immobility.

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