1878-1929

1878 - George Eastman was one of the first to demonstrate the great convenience of gelatin dry plates over the cumbersome and messy wet plate photography prevalent in his day. Dry plates could be exposed and developed at the photographer's convenience; wet plates had to be coated, exposed at once, and developed while still wet.


Eastman was one of the first to successfully mass-produce dry plates for photographers.

1879 - Eastman invented an emulsion-coating machine which enabled him to mass-produce photographic dry plates.

1880 - Eastman began commercial production of dry plates in a rented loft of a building in Rochester, N.Y.

1881 - In January, Eastman and Henry A. Strong (a family friend and buggy-whip manufacturer) formed a partnership known as the Eastman Dry Plate Company. ♦ In September, Eastman quit his job as a bank clerk to devote his full time to the business.

1883 - The Eastman Dry Plate Company completed transfer of operations to a four-story building at what is now 343 State Street, Rochester, NY, the company's worldwide headquarters.

1884 - The business was changed from a partnership to a $200,000 corporation with 14 shareowners when the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company was formed. ♦ EASTMAN Negative Paper was introduced. ♦ Eastman and William H. Walker, an associate, invented a roll holder for negative papers.

1885 - EASTMAN American Film was introduced - the first transparent photographic "film" as we know it today. ♦ The company opened a wholesale office in London, England.


Eastman's State Street offices, circa 1890.

1886 - George Eastman became one of the first American industrialists to employ a full-time research scientist to aid in the commercialization of a flexible, transparent film base.

1888 - The name "Kodak" was born and the KODAK camera was placed on the market, with the slogan, "You press the button - we do the rest." This was the birth of snapshot photography, as millions of amateur picture-takers know it today.

1889 - The first commercial transparent roll film, perfected by Eastman and his research chemist, was put on the market. The availability of this flexible film made possible the development of Thomas Edison's motion picture camera in 1891. ♦ A new corporation - The Eastman Company - was formed, taking over the assets of the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company.


Early ad demonstrating the ease of photography.

 

1891 - The company marketed its first daylight-loading camera, which meant that the photographer could now reload the camera without using a darkroom. ♦ The manufacture of photographic film and paper was transferred to four newly-constructed buildings at Kodak Park, in Rochester. Also, the company's first manufacturing plant outside the U.S. was opened in Harrow, England.


Eastman and Thomas Alva Edison collaborated to make motion pictures possible.

1892 - The company became Eastman Kodak Company of New York.

1893 - A six-story Camera Works was built on State Street, in Rochester, to manufacture the growing line of box and folding roll-film cameras.

1895 - The Pocket KODAK Camera was announced. It used roll film and incorporated a small window through which positioning numbers for exposures could be read.

1896 - One year after the discovery of x-rays, Eastman entered into an agreement to supply plates and paper for the new process. ♦ Kodak also marketed the first film especially coated for motion picture use.

1897 - Kodak established a wholly-owned subsidiary in France, expanding a branch office which had been opened in 1891.

1898 - Kodak marketed the Folding Pocket KODAK Camera, now considered the ancestor of all modern roll-film cameras. It produced a 2 1/4-inch by 3 1/4-inch negative, which remained the standard size for decades. ♦ The company's suggestion system began. It provided cash payments to employees for suggestions that improved the company's operations.

1899 - The company developed the continuous wheel process for manufacturing transparent film base, which had previously been coated on long tables. ♦ Eastman awarded Kodak employees a bonus from his personal funds for their "extra good work." ♦ Kodak Canada Limited was organized as a distribution center in Toronto.

1900 - The first of the famous BROWNIE Cameras was introduced. It sold for $1 and used film that sold for 15 cents a roll. For the first time, the hobby of photography was within the financial reach of virtually everyone.

1901 - Eastman Kodak Company of New Jersey, the present parent company, was formed. George Eastman became president of the New Jersey holding company. Henry A. Strong, Eastman's original partner, remained at the head of the New York company until his death in 1919.

1902 - The KODAK Developing Machine simplified the processing of roll film and made it possible to develop film without a darkroom.

The KODAK Developing Machine made it possible for amateurs to process their own film without a darkroom.

1903 - KODAK Non-Curling Film was introduced, which remained the standard for amateur photography for nearly 30 years.

1907 - Kodak's worldwide employment passed the 5,000 mark.

1908 - Kodak produced the world's first commercially practical safety film using cellulose acetate base instead of the highly flammable cellulose nitrate base. ♦ A manufacturing plant was opened in Australia.


The Kodak Developing Machine made it possible for amateurs to process their own film without a darkroom.

1911 - The company's Blair Camera factory in Rochester was renamed the Hawk-Eye Works, and a department for the design of optics was established there in 1912. ♦ Eastman created a benefit, accident, and pension fund for employees. ♦ The company's first safety committee was organized to study accident prevention.

1912 - Dr. C.E. Kenneth Mees, a British scientist, was hired by George Eastman to organize and head a research laboratory in Rochester, one of the first industrial research centers in the U.S. ♦ Kodak employees received their first Wage Dividend, a profit sharing program that continues in the U.S. today.

1913 - The introduction of EASTMAN Portrait Film began a transition to the use of sheet film instead of glass plates for professional photographers.

1914 - A 16-story office building, the company's present worldwide headquarters, was completed at 343 State Street, in Rochester. Three more stories were added in 1930.

1917 - Kodak developed aerial cameras and trained aerial photographers for the U.S. Signal Corps during World War I. Eastman also offered the U.S. Navy supplies of cellulose acetate for coating airplane wings and producing unbreakable lenses for gas masks.

1920 - Tennessee Eastman Company was organized to manufacture wood alcohol for film base.

1921 - The Eastman Savings and Loan Association was established to help employees save and to finance home purchases. It remained part of the company until it became a self-standing credit union in 1994.

1923 - Kodak made amateur motion pictures practical with the introduction of 16 mm reversal film on cellulose acetate (safety) base, the first 16 mm CINE-KODAK Motion Picture Camera, and the KODASCOPE Projector. The immediate popularity of 16 mm movies resulted in a network of Kodak processing laboratories throughout the world.

1925 - Eastman became chairman of Kodak's board of directors. William G. Stuber, whom Eastman had hired in 1894 to direct emulsion-making, was elected president.

1927 - Kodak employment throughout the world passed the 20,000 mark.

1928 - Motion pictures in color became a reality for amateur cinematographers with the introduction of 16 mm KODACOLOR Film. ♦ The first microfilm system, designed to simplify bank records, was introduced by Recordak Corporation, a newly-formed subsidiary of Kodak. ♦ Retirement annuity, life insurance, and disability benefit programs were established for Kodak men and women.

1929 - The company introduced its first motion picture film designed especially for making the then new sound motion pictures.