kodak history

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On July 12, 1854 in the village of Waterville Maria Kilbourn and George Washington Eastman had a child that would change the way the world took pictures forever, and that child was George Eastman. When George was five his father sold the family nursery business and moved to Rochester where he founded the Eastman Commercial College. Shortly thereafter George’s father died and the College failed leaving George and his mother in financial despair. So because of family circumstances George had to drop out of school at the age of fourteen and find a job. His first job was as a messenger boy with an insurance firm, which paid three dollars a week. A year later George got a job as an office boy for a different insurance firm. There through his own hard work, dedication, and initiative he soon took charge of filing policies and even began to write them. With these new responsibilities his pay rose to five dollars a week. After four years of working at the insurance firm he was hired as a junior clerk at Rochester Savings Bank where his current salary of five dollars a week tripled to more than fifteen dollars a week. Four years later George had planned to take a vacation to Santo Domingo. When a colleague of his suggested that he make a record of the trip George went out and purchased a photographic outfit with all the paraphernalia of the wet plate days. This was to be his first endeavor into the photographic world. At the time cameras were as big as today’s microwave ovens and needed a heavy tripod to support them. He also had purchased a tent to develop the pictures before the glass plates dried out. The supplies needed consisted of glass tanks, a heavy plate holder and a jug of water the entire outfit “was a pack-horse load” as George described it. Learning how to use his new equipment cost him five dollars. After all this George never made his Santo Domingo trip but became completely engrossed in photography and seeking out ways to simplify the process. George had heard that British photographers were using their own gelatin emulsions that remained sensitive after they were dry and could be exposed at your leisure. Using a formula he got from a British magazine for emulsions, George began making his own. He continued to work at the bank during the day while experimenting in his mother’s kitchen in the evenings.

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