George Eastman

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George Eastman (July 12, 1854 – March 14, 1932) founded the Eastman Kodak Company and invented roll film, helping to bring photography to the mainstream. Roll film was also the basis for the invention of motion picture film in 1888 by the world's first filmmaker Louis Le Prince, and a few years later by his followers Léon Bouly, Thomas Edison, the Lumière Brothers and Georges Méliès.

He was an 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.


Early life

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, in 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.

Later years

In 1925, Eastman gave up his daily management of Kodak to become treasurer. He thereafter concentrated on philanthropic activities, to which he had already donated substantial sums. For example, he donated funds to establish the Eastman Dental Dispensary, in 1916. He was one of the major philanthropists of his time, ranking only slightly behind Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and a few others, but did not seek publicity for his activities. He concentrated on institution-building and causes that could help people's health. He donated to the University of Rochester, establishing the Eastman School of Music and School of Dentistry; to Tuskegee Institute; and to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), donations that provided the capital to build several of their first buildings at their second campus along the Charles River.

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