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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Kodak

George Eastman (1854-1932) (see below) was an American industrialist, inventor, and philanthropist. Interested in photographic processes from an early age, he started the the Eastman Dry plate company with Henry A. Strong in 1881. They set up their headquarters in Rochester, New York and made photographic plates for photographers.


Eastman and Strong's company changed from a partnership to a corporation in 1884 when Eastman invented roll film. The Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company was formed with 14 share owners.

On April 6, 1888 the company released their first hand-held camera that uses roll film, which Eastman called the Kodak. The following year Eastman changed the name to the Eastman Company, then three years later to the Eastman Kodak Company.

Eastman began to mass produce his inventions, transforming photography from an expensive hobby of the few to a relatively inexpensive, popular pastime.


Eastman Kodak's slogan was "you press the button, we do the rest". For $24 the camera came already loaded with film capable of taking 100 pictures. The camera was sent back to the factory where for $10 the film was developed into pictures.

The Brownie box camera (see below) was introduced by Eastman Kodak on February 1, 1900 selling for just $1.00. The camera's 6-exposure film sold for 15 cents. It created a new mass market for photography.


In his final two years, Eastman was in intense pain caused by a disorder affecting his spine. Eastman grew increasingly depressed due to his pain and reduced ability to function. On March 14, 1932, Eastman committed suicide with a single gunshot through the heart, leaving a note which read, "To my friends, my work is done – Why wait? GE."

As late as 1976, Kodak commanded 90% of film sales and 85% of camera sales in the U.S. However, their financial struggles began when Fujifilm, the Japanese photography company, began selling inexpensive film in the United States in the 1980s. Since their film cost much less than Kodak's, by 1999 they had a large share of the film market and Kodak was forced to lay off many workers.

When Digital cameras became popular, Kodak soon joined the market. By 1999 they were the second largest maker of digital cameras. But they lost $60 on each one they sold.

Kodak made so many marketing mistakes that its stock dropped from $76 a share in 1999 to $25 in 2004.  In 2012 the 131-year-company filed for bankruptcy protection. After selling off many of its products to other companies, Kodak came out of bankruptcy a much smaller company.

 Kodak had weapons grade uranium in their Rochester Labs until 2007.

Kodak developed a type of infrared film called 'Aerochrome' for government surveillance. It could detect camouflage from the air by making real foliage appear red when photographed.

In December 2014, Kodak announced to release its first Android smartphone which is made by Bullitt.

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