Photograph courtesy of Cameras From Daguerreotypes to
Instant Pictures by Brian Coe
The Kodak organization was founded by the young American, George Eastman, who worked as a bookkeeper in the Rochester Savings Bank in New York State. He became interested in photography in 1877, taking lessons from a local Rochester photographer.
He was soon dissatisfied with the need to carry around, as he put it, "a pack-horse load" of equipment required to coat and process plates on the spot.
In 1878 he read of improvements to the dry plate process and he began to experiment with the coating of gelatin dry plates and by the end of that year he had been sufficiently successful as to consider the manufacture of plates for sale.
In June 1879 he had invented a machine for coating plates, which he patented, and income from the sale of licenses for this machine enabled him to prepare for the manufacture of his own brand of plates.
He obtained financial backing from a buggy whip manufacturer, Colonel Henry A Strong, and on the 1st of January 1881 the Eastman Dry Plate Company was formed.
The business went well and Eastman, always thinking of ways to make photography easier, turned to the idea of using paper as a base for the negatives instead of the heavy and fragile glass plates and in 1884 theEastman Dry Plate and Film Company, working from a four story building in State Street, was named.
Later in 1885 he was able to market a new product, American Film, a paper base coated with a layer of soluble gelatin, then a layer of collodion and finally a gelatin emulsion.
The exposed and developed negative image could be separated from the paper base during processing and laid down onto glass or thick gelatin sheets. The product combined the light weight and flexibility of paper with the transparency of glass for printing.
In the belief that many more people would take up photography if it could be simplified, Eastman decided to start to manufacture cameras.
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