George Eastman


George Eastman (July 12, 1854 - March 14, 1932) founded the Eastman Kodak Co. and invented roll film, which brought photography to the common man. The roll film was also the basis for the invention of the motion picture film, used by early filmmakers Thomas Edison, the Lumiere Brothers, and [[Georges M鬩賝].

Eastman was born in Waterville, New York, some 20 miles southwest of Utica, New York. His parents were George Washington Eastman and Maria Kilbourn.

On September 4, 1888 Eastman registered the trademark Kodak,which was simply created by a variation of some of his favorite letters, and received a patent for his camera which used roll film. He coined the phrase "You Press The Button and We Do The Rest."

Eastman endowed the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester, and chose the American composer Howard Hanson to be its first director. Hanson made Eastman's school one of the most prestigious music schools in America. Eastman was even a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the national men's music fraternity.

In 1925, Eastman gave up the day-to-day management of Kodak, becoming Chairman of the Board. He thereafter concentrated on philanthropic activities. In his last couple of years Eastman was in great pain. He had trouble standing and his walking became a slow shuffle that was caused by an (unnamed at the time) degenerative disorder that was affecting his spine. A modern diagnosis would probably cite spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal caused by arthritis in the joints of the back. He grew depressed knowing he would likely be spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair, something he saw his mother having to use the last two years of her life. In 1932, he ended his own life by a single gunshot to the heart with an automatic pistol, leaving a suicide note that said "My work is done. Why wait?" Eastman is buried at Kodak Park in Rochester, New York.

During his lifetime, he gave away an estimated $100 million, mostly to the University of Rochester and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (under the name of "Mr. Smith"). He also made substantial gifts to the Tuskegee Institute and the Hampton Institute. Upon his death, his entire residuary estate went to the University of Rochester. His former home at 900 East Avenue in Rochester, New York, was opened as the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in 1947. On the 100th anniversary of his birth in 1954, Eastman was honored with a postage stamp from the United States Post Office.


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