Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 134,030 pages of information and 213,093 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Kodak

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1934. Eastman Process Film.
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1964. Kodak Pavillion.

With the slogan "you press the button, we do the rest," George Eastman put the first simple camera into the hands of a world of consumers in 1888. In so doing, he made a cumbersome and complicated process easy to use and accessible to nearly everyone.

1854 George Eastman was born in New York, but his family moved to Rochester, New York four years later.

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, New York.

1881 Eastman and Henry A. Strong (a family friend) formed a partnership known as the Eastman Dry Plate Company. Eastman quit his job as a bank clerk to devote his full time to the business.

1884 The business was changed from a partnership to a corporation with 14 shareowners when the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company was formed. Eastman Negative Paper was introduced. Eastman and an associate invented a roll holder for negative papers.

Cameras using film were sold with the slogan You press the button - we do the rest.

1885 Eastman American Film was introduced - the first transparent photographic "film". The company opened a wholesale office in London, England: Eastman Photo Materials Co

1888 The name Kodak was born and the Kodak camera went on the market. This was the birth of snapshot photography. An office in London's Oxford Street was opened by the time company's trademarks were registered for photographic apparatus.

1889 The first commercial transparent roll film was marketed. The availability of this flexible film made possible the development of Thomas Edison's motion picture camera in 1891.

1890 A trademark for the Brownie was registered. This was sold for $1, making photography affordable for all.

1891 The company marketed its first daylight-loading camera, so the photographer could reload the camera without a darkroom. 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 Co of New York.

1893 A six-storey Camera Works was built to manufacture the growing line of box and folding roll-film cameras.

1895 Pocket Kodak Camera announced. It used roll film and incorporated a small window so positioning numbers for exposures could be read.

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

1897 Established a wholly-owned subsidiary in France.

1898 Marketed the Folding Pocket Kodak Camera', the ancestor of all modern roll-film cameras. Became a private company.

1899 Developed the continuous wheel process for manufacturing transparent film base, which had previously been coated on long tables.

1899 Kodak Ltd was the successor company to Eastman Photo Materials Co

1900 The first of the famous Brownie Cameras was introduced. The hobby of photography was now within the financial reach of virtually everyone.

1901 Eastman Kodak Co of New Jersey, the present parent company, formed. George Eastman became president of the 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.

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

1907 Worldwide employment exceeded 5,000.

1908 Brownie camera introduced to the UK.

1908 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.

1912 Dr. C.E. Kenneth Mees, a British scientist, was hired by George Eastman to organize and head a research laboratory in Rochester.

1913 Introduction of Eastman Portrait Film began a transition to the use of sheet film instead of glass plates for professional photographers.

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

1914 Listed as manufacturers of photographic apparatus and materials, particularly cameras. Employees 1,100. [1]

1917 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 aeroplane wings and producing unbreakable lenses for gas masks.

1923 Kodak made amateur motion pictures practical with the introduction of 16 mm reversal film on cellulose acetate (safety) base. 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.

1927 Employment throughout the world exceeded 20,000.

1928 Motion pictures in colour became a reality for amateur cinematographers with the introduction of 16 mm Kodacolour Film. The first microfilm system, designed to simplify bank records, was introduced a newly-formed subsidiary of Kodak.

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

1930 Kodak purchased a gelatin manufacturing plant in Peabody, Massachusetts, and formed Eastman Gelatin Corporation.

1931 Tennessee Eastman began marketing its cellulose acetate yarn in the textile field. Introduced Kodalith Film and Plates, which replaced the collodion wet plates used in the graphic arts industry. Verichrome Film was introduced offering greater latitude and finer grain. Bought the Nagel Camera Company in Stuttgart, Germany. This became Kodak A. G., which for decades served as an equipment manufacturing site. Another German factory in Koepenick was lost in the division of Germany after World War II.

1932 The first 8 mm amateur motion-picture film, cameras, and projectors were introduced. George Eastman died, leaving his entire residual estate to the University of Rochester.

1933 Kodak and Western Electric jointly commercialized high-speed industrial photography with a high-speed camera, synchronized with an electric timer.

1934 Kodak A.G. (Germany) introduced the first of its 35 mm precision Kodak Retina Cameras. Kodak and General Mills, Inc. began a joint research program on molecular distillation, based on earlier Kodak research. By 1938, Distillation Products, Incorporated was manufacturing vitamin concentrates and, in 1948, Kodak bought General Mills' interest in the company.

1935 Kodachrome Film was introduced and became the first commercially successful amateur color film. It was initially offered in 16 mm format for motion pictures; 35 mm slides and 8 mm home movies followed in 1936.

1936 Introduced a new home movie camera (16 mm Magazine Cine-Kodak Camera) that used film in magazines instead of rolls. A year later, Kodak introduced its first 16 mm sound-on-film projector.

1937 Introduced its first slide projector. A top-load model, it took one slide at a time.

1937 Manufacturers of apparatus and materials for aerial photography and cinematography. [2]

1938 The first camera with built-in photoelectric exposure control was developed.

1939 Added a Ready-Mount Service. This made it possible to project slides as soon as they were received from a Kodak processing laboratory.

1941 The versatile Ektra Camera, with a wide shutter-speed range. Airgraph, or "V-Mail," was developed as a system for microfilming letters to conserve shipping space during World War II.

1942 Kodacolor Film for prints, the world's first true colour negative film, was announced. Kodak's Rochester plants were awarded for high achievement in the production of equipment and films for the war effort.

1946 Ektachrome Transparency Sheet Film, the company's first colour film that photographers could process themselves using newly marketed chemical kits. Employment worldwide exceeded 60,000.

1947 The world's first commercial production of synthetic Vitamin A began at Distillation Product Industries (DPI); DPI discontinued vitamin A production in 1973. Kodak introduced the Eastman Television Recording Camera, in cooperation with DuMont Laboratories and NBC, for recording images from a television screen.

1948 Announced a 35 mm tri-acetate safety base film for the motion picture industry to replace the flammable cellulose nitrate base. Fully automatic processing of snapshots was made possible by the Continuous Paper Processor. The machine produced 2,400 finished snapshots an hour.

1950 Unveiled the first in its long-running series of Kodak Colorama Display transparencies - 18 feet high and 60 feet wide - overlooking the main terminal floor of Grand Central Station in New York City.

1951 The low-priced Brownie 8 mm Movie Camera introduced. Brownie Movie Projector was added in 1952, and the Brownie Turret Camera in 1955. Texas Eastman Company began operations for the production of alcohols and aldehydes for the chemical trade.

1953 Introduced Photo Resist, designed for making photolithographic printing plates. The business was sold to Union Carbide Corporation in 1987. A new subsidiary, Eastman Chemical Products, Inc., formed to market products made by Tennessee Eastman and Texas Eastman.

1954 Tri-X Film, a high-speed black-and-white film, introduced. Texas Eastman constructed a new plant to produce Tenite polyethylene plastic. Kodak Brasileira began operating a sensitizing plant in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

1955 Began selling colour films without the cost of processing included; the result of a consent decree signed in 1954. The company's employment throughout the world reached 73,000.

1956 Verichrome Pan Film introduced - a black-and-white film that replaced the Verichrome Film launched in 1931. Tennessee Eastman introduced Verel Fiber for use in rugs, draperies and other household furnishings.

1957 Brownie Statmatic Cameras introduced. These eventually included seven models, and more than 10 million were sold over the next five years.

1958 Cavalcade Projector, the company's first fully automatic slide projector, introduced. X-Omat Processor reduced the processing time for x-ray films from one hour to six minutes. First single-lens reflex camera manufactured by Kodak A.G. Germany. Kodak Polyester Textile Fiber, developed by Tennessee Eastman, made available for use in clothing.

1959 Ektachrome Film became the fastest colour film on the market. The number of Kodak shareowners passed 100,000.

1961 The company introduced the first Carousel Projectors, with a round tray holding 80 slides. Employs 9,000 persons in the UK. [3]

1962 US consolidated sales exceeded $1 billion and worldwide employment exceeded 75,000. John Glenn became the first American astronaut to orbit the earth, and Kodak film recorded his reactions to travelling through space at 17,400 miles per hour.

1963 Instamatic Cameras introduced, featuring easy-to-use cartridge-loading film. More than 50 million Instamatic Cameras were produced by 1970.

1974 Rotary microfilmer which could take up to 600 documents a minute.[4]

2008 The company has sales of over $14 billion and its worldwide brand is valued at $4.9 billion.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Kodak Website
  • Trademarked. A History of Well-Known Brands - from Aertex to Wright's Coal Tar by David Newton. Pub: Sutton Publishing 2008 ISBN 978-0-7509-4590-5