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Fascinating facts about George Eastman inventor of the first film in roll form in1884 and the Kodak camera in 1888. George Eastman
Inventor: George Eastman photo courtesy Rochester University
George Eastman photo courtesy Rochester University
Criteria: First to invent. First to patent. First practical. Entrepreneur.
Birth: July 12, 1854  in Waterville, New York
Death: March 14, 1932 in in Rochester, New York
Nationality: American

Eastman, George American inventor and philanthropist, who played a leading role in transforming photography from an expensive hobby of a few devotees into a relatively inexpensive and immensely popular pastime. 

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 the outstanding 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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The Invention of Photography
by Quentin Bajac / Paperback: 160 pages / Harry N Abrams;  (November 2002)
This fascinating study of the first half-century of photography covers not only its scientific developments but also its establishment as a documentary tool and, eventually, its critical acceptance as an art form.

Click: A Story About George Eastman
by Barbara Mitchell / Paperback - 64 pages Reprint edition (April 1988) / Carolrhoda Books
Follows the life and career of the man who revolutionized photography by developing a camera simple enough for anyone to use.

The Artist and the Camera: Degas to Picasso
by Dorothy M. Kosinski / Hardcover - 352 pages (October 1999) / Yale Univ Press

This stunning book shows how some of the most influential artists of the period-among them Bonnard, Brancusi, Degas, Gauguin, Mucha, Munch--enfolded photographs into their creative processes and put the "wondrous new medium" to use in paintings and sculpture.
Kodak's Most Basic Book of 35Mm Photography
by Jeff Wignall, Eastman Kodak Co. Staff / Paperback: / Sterling Publications 2 Ed edition (1998)

There are plenty of big volume "Beginners Guides" out there but none of them will make you lose your fear of confusion as fast as this one

Captured Light: The Invention of Still Photography
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / Less than $25.00 / Also VHS
The development of the still camera was one of the most significant advances of the age of invention. The captured image has transformed the way we see our world, preserving moments forever with the push of a button.

George Eastman House
Today, much of the historic house built by George Eastman, its grounds, and principal gardens have been carefully restored to suggest their original gracious appearance.
History of Kodak
From glass plates to digital images.
George Eastman The Man At Kodak
The complete history of George Eastman.
Encarta Encyclopedia
The online version is your gateway to 16,000 abriged references, articles and world atlas.

The Photographic Historical Society
Located in Rochester, NY was established to bring together all individuals with an interest in the history of photography. Hosted by the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Invention Dimension - Inventor of the Week
Celebrates inventor/innovator role models through outreach activities and annual awards to inspire a new generation of American scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs.
National Inventors Hall of Fame
The National Inventors Hall of Fame™ honors the women and men responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social and economic progress possible.

"You just push the button, we do the rest." - George Eastman


  • George Eastman’s life in photography spans the half-century from 1880 to 1930, when science, technology and culture converged to create "new products" of all sorts.
  • US Patent No. 317,049 issued May 5, 1885 for Roll Film. Application filed August 8, 1884.
  • Eastman had built a "Method and Apparatus for Coating Plates" (patent #226,503, granted 1879) which made dry film a reality
Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised October 9, 2006.

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