George Eastman

Kodak Camera


Named after his father, George Eastman was born on July 12, 1854, in Waterville, New York. George Sr. had started a small business school in Rochester, where he moved the family in 1860. But he died suddenly when George Jr. was 8. One of young George's two older sisters was wheelchair-bound from polio and died when George was 16.

George dropped out of high school at age 14 to add to the family income. He began as a messenger and office boy for insurance companies and studied accounting at home. He eventually landed a job as bookkeeper at the Rochester Savings Bank.

George The Creator

When George was 24, he planned to visit Santo Domingo. But the photography equipment alone was enormous, heavy and costly. Instead he began researching how to make photography easier for the average person to enjoy. After seeing a formula for a "dry plate" in a British publication, and getting .Eastman formulated a gelatin-based paper film and a device for coating dry plates. He resigned from his bank job after launching his photography company in April 1880. In 1885, he headed to the patent office with a roll holder device that he and camera inventor William Hall Walker had developed. This allowed cameras to be smaller, and cheaper. Eastman also came up with the name Kodak, because he believed products should have their own identity. So in 1888, they launched the first Kodak camera.

The Camera

  • The first Kodak camera was a box camera with a mechanical shutter. The shutter speed and aperture were fixed. Usable in daylight only, it was sold pre-loaded with enough black and white film for 100 exposures. After the film was exposed, the whole camera was returned to the Kodak company in Rochester, New York, where the film was developed, prints were made, new film was inserted, and then thecamera and prints were returned to the customer.


The significance of the first portable Kodak camera was that it made photography easier and faster. It made it easier by you don't have to carry all the chemicals and boards and a huge camera just to take one photo. It made it quicker because you could have them printed a lot faster.