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Kodak founder George W. Eastman

Kodak founder George W. Eastman

By orlando hanafeePublished 4 months ago 8 min read

"You press the shutter and we'll do the rest!" This is a famous advertising slogan, is the world-famous father of public photography George Eastman a century ago, the famous slogan is still known to the public today. It embodies Kodak's simple, customer-friendly style.

As an excellent brand with a history of more than 100 years, "Kodak" plays an irreplaceable role in our lives. As the company's founder, George Eastman's legacy is that he not only created Kodak, but also set the company's culture and direction, and his influence continues to this day.

Great men grow out of poverty

George Eastman was born in Waterville, New York, on July 12, 1854, the youngest of three children. Old Eastman House was where George's father was born and where George spent his childhood.

When George was five years old, his father sold the nursery and the family moved to Rochester. Here, the elder Eastman devoted his life to the Eastman School of Business. But when George was seven years old, his father died, forcing the school to close, and the family was in dire financial straits.

Eastman's mother is a strong woman, she did not have much education, and can only do odd jobs for money, but she knows the importance of education for children. To pay for her children's education, she worked day and night without a break. Eastman sees their mother so hard, the heart is very painful but young he, can only put the mother's kindness in mind.

At the age of 14, Eastman refused to go to school anymore. He could not bear his mother to bear the burden of the family alone. He wanted to help his mother share the responsibility. Despite his mother's repeated objections to his dropping out of school, Eastman was determined.

After dropping out of school, Eastman began working hard as an insurance company handyman for $3 a week. A year later, he became a clerk in another insurance company. Through his efforts, Eastman was soon in charge of filing and even compiling insurance policies. His salary was raised to $5 a week. Although there was only so much money, Eastman treasured it and carefully saved it, and gave it all to his mother. He also sells bookshelves on the side, and sometimes even makes door-to-door sales of knitting needles for sweaters to housewives.

Sales work was even more grueling and often met with cold shoulder, but Eastman endured it for the sake of his mother and family.

In this way, things slowly began to improve in the Eastman family. Eastman taught himself accounting at home every night to find a better-paying job. In 1874, after five years in the insurance business, he was hired as a junior clerk at the Rochester Savings Bank. His salary tripled to more than $15 a week.

Then, after several years of scrimping and saving, Eastman amassed $3,000. As a bank clerk, he has stepped into the ranks of white-collar workers.

I'm fascinated by photography

As a child, Eastman loved to travel. He had no money or time, but now he could finally get around. In 1879, Eastman planned a vacation to Santo Domingo. When a colleague suggested that he document his trip, Eastman bought a $94 camera kit -- complete with camera and imaging equipment. In this way, he gradually learned the technique of photography and became fascinated by it.

But what bothered Eastman was that cameras at the time were bulky: they were as big as microwave ovens and required a heavy tripod. He also brought a tent so that he could coat the glass sheets with photographic latex, expose the glass sheets, and then rinse the plates before they were dry. The whole outfit was, so to speak, "a whole carriage." To make matters worse, the machine was very troublesome to operate, and if it was not operated strictly according to the technical principles, the result was either light leakage or a blur. And it costs $5 to learn how to use it to take photos. If things go on like this, will taking photos bring pleasure to tourists? Eastman vowed to improve the equipment, simplify the process, make photography "democracy-oriented" -- to make it as easy to use a camera as a pencil, and make photography fun for everyone.

Eastman's trip to Santo Domingo never happened, but he was fascinated by photography and determined to simplify the complex process. Every day after coming home from the bank, he plunged into his research, the home kitchen became his laboratory, and he bought all kinds of chemical reagents to do all kinds of experiments.

For chemistry, Eastman is a layman, but the so-called practice out of real knowledge, through various experiments, a lot of mysteries have been revealed by him. Eastman's main "mentor" was a mangled British photography magazine in which he read that photographers were making gelatin emulsions. The glass sheets coated with this emulsion remain sensitive to light after drying and are easily exposed. Using recipes from magazines, Eastman also began making his gelatin emulsions.

Eastman worked in a bank during the day and experimented in the kitchen at home at night, sleeping on the floor when he was tired, then waking up and working again. But he felt no bitterness in this endless monotony, for his heart was filled with the joy of creation.

In one experiment, Eastman worked from Wednesday to Saturday night, when his girlfriend called to meet him at the station at 10 a.m. the next day. After he hung up the phone, Eastman went back to his experiment, and he was so focused that by the time he remembered the date, he was already on a roll. This situation is countless, the girlfriend can't stand it any longer, and broke up with him. Although Eastman was in great pain, he went ahead with the invention.

"Kodak" was born

After much experimentation, Eastman finally developed a film coated with dry gelatin, whereas previously photographic plates were wet. Wet sheets coated with emulsion must be exposed and rinsed while they are not dry, and dry sheets can be exposed and rinsed at any time. Eastman then invented milk the coating machine and began mass-producing dry tablets.

Eastman's inventions began to attract attention, and his research began to be sponsored by the businessman Stone. In 1881, at the age of 27, Eastman used $5,500 he had saved over the years to fund the Eastman Dry Plate Manufacturing Company in Rochester, the precursor to the Kodak Company.

Later in the development process, Eastman's company nearly went out of business because of problems with a batch of dry plates it produced. Finally, Eastman recalled all the broken plates and replaced them with good ones. Eastman lost a lot of money and almost lost everything, but his action won his company a good reputation.

In 1886, Eastman developed the roll film, or "Eastman film," which ended the history of photographic plates made from wet, heavy, and fragile sheets of glass.

But these inventions did not satisfy Eastman. After all, the real "popularization of photography" had not yet been achieved. His ultimate goal was the portable home camera for the home. Eastman devoted all his energy to the improvement of the camera, figuring out how to make the machine smaller, lighter, and more convenient.

After numerous failures, Eastman's new camera was finally born in 1886. This is a great invention in the history of mankind! At the same time, the most special thing about this camera is that after all the shots are taken, even the camera is sent to be developed intact. This style and sales method, in the history of photography, is epoch-making significance. The days of carrying camera equipment in horse-drawn carriages ended for enthusiasts.

Eastman thought long and hard about a fancy name for his new product. Eventually, he coined a new word -- "Kodak."

But in the beginning, things were not so good, because it was so new, when the Kodak camera was launched, almost no one wanted to buy it. Looking at this grotesque object, everyone did not believe that it would make a good portrait. Besides, taking pictures has always been a hassle, and many people were afraid they didn't have the skills to handle the new gadget.

Faced with this situation, Eastman came up with an ingenious idea. He placed an advertisement in the media: "You just press the button, and we will do the rest." Less than a year later, the slogan became a household word. Advertising executives and agencies raced to implement his idea, and the Kodak slogan filled magazines, newspapers, display cases, and billboards.

In 1892, Eastman renamed the company "Eastman Kodak" Company. In 1895, Kodak took the world by storm with the release of a $5 pocket camera -- the dream of photography "for the masses" finally becoming a reality.

Focus on management and innovation

To build a good brand, from the beginning, Eastman focused on scientific research. To this end, he spared no expense in recruiting many first-class talents, encouraging them to explore and develop new products. Kodak has one of the largest research and development budgets in corporate America, investing as much as $1.5 million a day, and the head office alone employs about 2,000 engineers and scientists to do all kinds of research.

By chance, two musicians in the United States inspired the idea of improving color photography while watching a short color film. So they divided the emulsions made by the German scientists into three layers and discovered that they were sensitive to the red, green, and blue colors of a light source. Little did they know how important this discovery would be to Eastman.


About the Creator

orlando hanafee

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