Born to Maria Kilbourn and George Washington Eastman on July 12, 1854, young George experienced a number of hardships early on in his life which shaped and sharpened his ability to adapt and innovate – traits that would later on define his success in the field of photography. The death of his father when he was just seven, which left the family financially challenged, and his decision to “drop out of school at age 14 to support his widowed mother and two sisters, one of whom was severely handicapped” (Eastman Kodak Company), are only some of the circumstances in his life which could have made George Eastman socially, mentally, and emotionally diverse or different from other children his age. In addition to these circumstances, George Eastman’s inborn personality, such as “his ability to overcome financial adversity, his gift for organization and management, and his lively and inventive mind,” served only to strengthen his difference from others and set him apart (Eastman Kodak Company). George Eastman lived at a time when recording or taking photographs was cumbersome and exclusively for those who had the knowledge and skill at exposing wet plates and developing them using the appropriate chemicals. But unlike the others during his time, George Eastman did not shy away from trying to change something that the people then were not only used to, but resigned to. His difference had him searching for another way to make the process of taking pictures less complicated. For three years, George Eastman meticulously experimented with gelatin emulsions in his mother’s kitchen after his work as junior clerk at the Rochester Savings Bank during the day was over. His perseverance paid off and by 1880, George Eastman had not only perfected the dry plate formula, he had also come up with a machine that prepared these dry plates (Eastman Kodak Company). Soon, according to Utterback (1), George Eastman was producing dry plates on a large scale which “certainly
Cited: “George Eastman – About His Life”. September 2008. Eastman Kodak Company.
Utterback, James. Developing Technologies: The Eastman Kodak Story. The
McKinsey Quarterly, No. 1, 1995: 1.