How George Eastman Started The Kodak Company – History

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The Estman Kodak Company Foundation

More than 120 years ago, in 1888, a man named George Eastman founded a small company – Eastman Kodak Company, selling cheap cameras and consumables for them. ‘You press the button, we do the rest’ was the motto of the business, which main strategy was selling cameras cheap and making good margins on films and other photo equipment and materials. Mr. Eastman wanted to make photography more accessible to a broader circle of people. He wanted to make it more simple and entertaining. He wanted to change the world, one of the most common desire among great entrepreneurs. No matter that the first cameras produced were nothing more than a wooden box with a whole and a lens. Their prices started at $1, but despite all of these, the young George managed to achieve his goals and took his deserved place in the business history of our world.

How Everything Started…

Eastman Kodak got involved in business when he was only 14 years old. He dropped out of high school and began working as a do-all boy in an insurance company, because his family needed the money. He was a hard working guy, enthusiastic and very motivated. When he reached his mid twenties, he already had become a successful entrepreneur. But this didn’t happen easily… Eastman went through many obstacles. His first wage was around $12 per month, which was anything but sufficient amount for normal living. Determined to get better paid, Eastman began studying accounting during the evenings after work. 5 years passed after the young boy managed to get a position in a local bank. This is how his salary jumped to around $60 per month, or several times more than before.

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When Eastman was 24, he had plans to go on a trip to Santo Domingo. He wanted to shoot his vacation and he bough a camera to do this. The device was as big as a microwave oven and the equipment needed for it ‘was a pack-horse load’ as he called it. He didn’t go to a vacation, but he got totally obsessed by photography. This was the actual birth of the ‘Kodak’ idea.

Taking a simple picture with that camera was really a difficult procedure. He thought that he could simplify it and began exploring the ways to do this. He was experimenting with different things in his mom’s kitchen, during the evenings after work. He was totally dedicated to his passion, the experiments continued 3 years. In 1880 he had developed a technology for making dry photographic plates and patented a machine producing them. That was a huge break out and he knew, that the plates had huge sales potential.


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