George Eastman

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George Eastman
BirthplaceWaterville, New York, U.S.
Businessman, inventor, philanthropist
Known for Photography pioneer, Founder of Eastman Kodak

Eastman, George

Eastman, George, 1854–1932, American inventor, industrialist, and philanthropist, b. Waterville, N.Y. By mass production of his photographic inventions, Eastman enormously stimulated the development of photography as a popular hobby. He invented a dry-plate process and established (1880) a factory at Rochester, N.Y., for making the plates; he devised a roll film and the Kodak camera (1888) to use it, as well as a process for color photography (1928). The Eastman Kodak Company, founded in 1892, was one of the first firms in America to establish a plant for large-scale production of a standardized product and to maintain a fine chemical laboratory; its progressive welfare program included a profit-sharing plan. Eastman's philanthropies were estimated at over $100 million: the principal recipients were the Univ. of Rochester and the Eastman School of Music, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tuskegee and Hampton institutes, Rochester Dental Dispensary, and dental clinics in several European capitals. In 1932 after a long illness Eastman committed suicide.


See biographies by C. W. Ackerman (1930, repr. 1973) and B. Mitchell (1986).

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Eastman, George

(1854–1932) inventor, manufacturer, philanthropist; born in Waterville, N.Y. Interested in photographic processes from an early age, he abandoned banking for photography and produced a flexible role film (1884) and the "Kodak" box camera (1888). His experiments with Thomas Edison made motion pictures possible. Eastman formed the Eastman Kodak Company in 1892 and introduced the legendary Brownie camera eight years later. Aggressive and hard-driving, he bought out rivals or drove them out of business, and his company soon dominated the industry. One of the nation's leading philanthropists, he founded the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., and supported various other educational institutions. His home in Rochester, N.Y., is a major photography museum.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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