- NAME: George Eastman
- OCCUPATION: Entrepreneur, Inventor
- BIRTH DATE: July 12, 1854
- DEATH DATE: March 14, 1932
- Did You Know?: Although Eastman invented amateur photography, there are very few pictures of him, and he often went unrecognized in his hometown of Rochester, which he had helped become a thriving community.
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Waterville, New York
- PLACE OF DEATH: Rochester, New York
Best Known For
George Eastman invented the first Kodak camera, helping make photography accessible to the public. His company remains one of the largest in the industry.
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In all, Eastman's innovations started the amateur photography craze that is still going strong today.
Although his company was essentially a monopoly for many years, Eastman was not the average corporate industrialist. He was the first to develop and implement the concept of profit sharing, and, in addition, he made an outright gift from his own money to each of his workers. In 1919, he added what is known now as stock options.
His generosity extended beyond his own business, as he gave to the struggling Mechanics Institute of Rochester, which became the Rochester Institute of Technology, as well as M.I.T. (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). His high regard for education in general led him to contribute to University of Rochester, and the Hampton and Tuskegee institutes. "The progress of the world depends almost entirely upon education," he said.
Dental clinics both in Rochester and in Europe were also a focus of his concern. "It is a medical fact," he said, "that children can have a better chance in life with better looks, better health and more vigor if the teeth, nose, throat and mouth are taken proper care of at the crucial time of childhood."
In all, it is estimated that Eastman contributed more than $100 million of his wealth for philanthropic purposes during his lifetime.
An avid cyclist, Eastman noticed a progressive immobility, the result of a degenerative condition that involved a hardening of the cells in the lower spinal cord. He also suffered from severe diabetes. So on March 14, 1932, at age 77, he took his own life with a single gunshot to the head. A note he left said, "My work is done. Why wait?"
He never married or had a family, citing being too busy and too poor when he was younger. He was an enthusiastic art collector on his long trips to Europe, and a music lover, establishing the prestigious Eastman School of Music.
Overall, it is believed that he enjoyed his life, and he gave countless millions the opportunity to enjoy theirs with lasting memories captured on film.
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