Eastman Kodak Company history

Timeline created by DemocratAndChronicle
  • Eastman explores photography

    Eastman explores photography
    23-year-old George Eastman buys a photography outfit for a planned Caribbean vacation. It includes a cumbersome camera, tripod, chemicals darkroom tent and a
    wet plate apparatus. He cancels the vacation. (Photo courtesy George Eastman House)
  • Dry plate innovation

    Dry plate innovation
    Eastman invents a coating method that lets him mass-produce photographic dry plates, which are a precursor to film. Eastman's dry plate coating machine receives a patent in London, with it receiving a U.S. patent a year later.
  • Eastman & Strong go into business

    Eastman & Strong go into business
    A bookkeeper at Rochester Savings Bank, George Eastman rents a third-floor loft to make dry plates commercially. Henry A. Strong (pictured), a buggy-whip manufacturer, invests money and together in 1881 they form Eastman Dry Plate Co.
  • State Street headquarters open

    State Street headquarters open
    Eastman Dry Plate moves to where Kodak's 19-story world headquarters at 343 State St. sits today. The famous Kodak slogan, "You Press the Button, We Do the Rest" appears on Mr. Eastman's original factory building on State Street, trumpeting the simplification of using his Kodak camera. Photo courtesy George Eastman House
  • Company reorganizes

    The company reorganizes as Eastman Dry Plate and Film Co. And a year later it launches film in rolls and a roll holder adaptable to plate cameras. Strong is president of the company, with Eastman as general manager.
  • Eastman Film introduced

    The company opens a London sales office to tap into the booming European photography market. Eastman American Film - the first transparent film negative as we know it today - is introduced.
  • "Kodak" name trademarked

    "Kodak" name trademarked
    The "Kodak" name is trademarked. George Eastman later says in interviews that he experimented with a variety of made-up words but liked the "incisive" sound of the letter K. The first Eastman Kodak camera is released. It cost $25 - $600 in today's dollars - and was pre-loaded with film. The camera and film are sent to Rochester for developing, with the customer getting back prints and the camera reloaded with film at a cost of $10. Photo shows Eastman in 1888 (courtesy George Eastman House)
  • Kodak Park opens

    Kodak Park opens
    In what was then outside city limits, the company starts what will be its Kodak Park industrial park with four buildings. This photo depicts Frederick Douglass (center) with President Benjamin Harrison (to his right), Mayor Edgerton (left) and other dignitaries at the official dedication of Eastman Kodak Park in 1892. George Eastman was reportedly out of town on this day. (Photo courtesy George Eastman House)
  • Daytime loading camera launched

    Daytime loading camera launched
    Eastman Dry Plate puts out a camera that could be loaded in daylight, without use of a darkroom. The company also moves film and photographic paper manufacturing to Kodak Park and opens its first international manufacturing site, in the London suburb of Harrow.
  • Eastman Kodak Co formed

    Eastman Kodak Co formed
    The company is reorganized again as Eastman Kodak Co. of New York. A separate Eastman Kodak Co. of New Jersey is created in 1901. And Kodak consists of both companies until 1936, when the New York company is dissolved and its assets transferred to the New Jersey one. This 1891 photo shows a single smokestack puffing smoke from a coal furnace that provided power for Kodak's four-building production complex at Lake Avenue and Ridge Road.
    Photo courtesy George Eastman House
  • Kodak passes milestones

    Kodak turns out its 100,000th camera. It also is churning out photographic film and paper at the rate of 400 miles a month. It begins supplying film for the budding x-ray and motion picture industries.
  • Brownie camera debuts

    Brownie camera debuts
    Kodak releases its $1 Brownie camera, making photography available to the masses. (Photo courtesy George Eastman House)
  • Hawkeye plant opens

    Kodak christens its Hawkeye lens plant on St. Paul Street.
  • First employee bonus issued

    First employee bonus issued
    The company's worldwide employment exceeds 5,000. It pays the first of what becomes an annual tradition of wage dividend bonuses to employees.
  • Kodak Tower built

    Kodak Tower built
    Kodak builds a 16-story office building at 343 State St. The other three stories were added in 1930. It replaced the original Kodak factory building, pictured here.
  • Eastman becomes president

    Eastman becomes president
    On Henry Strong's death, Eastman moves to company president. He gives a third of his Kodak stock holdings - $125 million worth in today's dollars - to employees.
  • Chemical company purchased

    Kodak buys from the U.S. government a hardwood distillation plant in Tennessee for making wood alcohol - a key chemical in film manufacture - and forms Tennessee Eastman Corp. Also in 1920, the Eastman Savings and Loan Association is founded.
  • Silver consumption growing

    Kodak is turning out 147,000 miles of motion picture film a year.
    One twelveth of all silver mined in the United States goes to make Kodak motion picture film. Only the U.S. Mint is a bigger consumer of silver.
  • Expanding the business

    Kodak made amateur motion picture filming practical with its introduction of 16mm film on a nonflammable base and 16mm movie cameras and projectors. The company also begins establishing a global network of film processing labs.
  • Eastman steps down

    Eastman steps down
    71-year-old George Eastman hands over presidency of the company to William Stuber (pictured), becomes chairman and focuses on philanthropy. He donates $30 million - $375 million in today's dollars - to a variety of educational institutions, including University of Rochester, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the historically black universities of Hampton and Tuskegee.
  • Employee benefits expanded

    Kodak starts providing life insurance, disability benefits and retirement annuity plans for employees.
  • Introduction of sound film

    Introduction of sound film
    Kodak introduces sound movie film for the "talkies." Worldwide company employment passes 20,000.
  • George Eastman dies

    George Eastman dies
    Stricken with a crippling and debilitating disease,Eastman took his own life at age 77, on March 14, 1932, in his East Avenue mansion. His suicide note reads "My work is done - why wait?" Photo courtesy George Eastman House
  • High-speed industrial photography

    Kodak and Western Electric jointly commercialize high-speed industrial photography with a high-speed camera synchronized to an electric timer.
  • Distillation Products

    Frank Lovejoy becomes president. Kodak and General Mills start joint research into molecular distillation. By 1938, their Distillation Products Inc. is turning out vitamin concentrates. And in 1948, Kodak buys out General Mills' interest in the company. In the depths of the Great Depression, Kodak does not pay its annual wage dividend bonus to workers. The bonus is reinstated in 1935.
  • Kodachrome film introduced

    Kodachrome film introduced
    The iconic Kodachrome color film line is launched.
  • Sound-on-film projector

    Sound-on-film projector
    Kodak introduces its first 16mm sound-on-film projector.
  • Hargrave named President

    Thomas Hargrave, formerly head of Kodak's legal department, becomes president.
  • Kodacolor film debuts

    Kodacolor film debuts
    Kodacolor Film for prints, the world's first true color negative film, is announced.
  • Ektachrome film

    Ektachrome film
    Kodak introduces Ektachrome Transparency Sheet Kits, its first color film which could be processed by amateur photographers with chemical kits. The company's worldwide employment passes 60,000.
  • Eastman House opens

    Eastman House opens
    George Eastman's home on East Avenue opens as the International Museum of Photography and Film at George Eastman House. Photo shows the museum in 1999.
  • Kodak wins first Academy Award

    Kodak wins first Academy Award
    Kodak wins its first Academy Award, for development of triacetate safety-base movie film.
  • Chapman named President

    Chapman named President
    Albert K. Chapman becomes president.
  • Processing opened to independent photofinishers

    Under a court consent decree, Kodak begins selling color film without the cost of processing included in the price. The company begins providing services and products to independent photofinishers
  • Zoom movie camera

    Zoom movie camera
    The Kodak Zoom 8 movie camera is the first Kodak camera with a zoom lens.
  • Vaughn named CEO

    William S. Vaughn becomes CEO.
  • Sales surpass $1 billion

    Kodak sales surpass $1 billion. Worldwide employment hits 75,000.
  • Kodak Instamatic cameras

    Kodak Instamatic cameras
    The introduction of Kodak Instamatic cameras and cartridge loading films makes loading a roll of film easy for amateurs. The company sells 50 million Instamatic cameras in their fist seven years.
  • Sales surpass $2 billion

    Sales surpass $2 billion, with worldwide employment growing to 100,000.
  • Elmgrove facility opens

    Elmgrove facility opens
    The relocation of Kodak's Camera Works operations to its Elmgrove facility in Gates begins. Louis K. Eilers named president.
  • Advances for home movies

    Kodak introduces Super 8 film in cartridges and a family of Instamatic movie cameras.
  • Kodak goes to the moon

    Kodak goes to the moon
    Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon, carrying with them a specially made Kodak camera and film. Construction begins on Kodak Colorado - a film and paper manufacturing site in Windsor, Colo. Louis K. Eilers becomes CEO.
  • Plant in Mexico opens

    The company dedicates a film manufacturing plant in Guadalajara, Mexico.
  • Pocket-sized Instamatic camera

    Pocket-sized Instamatic camera
    The company introduces a pocket-sized Instamatic camera line. Walter A. Fallon becomes CEO. Worldwide company sales pass $3 billion.
  • Kodak copiers

    Kodak launches its Ektaprint photocopiers.
  • Instant cameras hit market

    Instant cameras hit market
    Kodak's EK4 and EK6 instant cameras hit the market. Polaroid sues for patent violations.
  • Kodak researchers patent digital camera

    Kodak researchers patent digital camera
    Company researchers Steve Sasson and Gareth Lloyd receive a patent for their 1975 invention of the digital camera, which weighed eight pounds and was larger than a shoebox. Kodak launches its Colorburst 100 instant camera.
  • Employment peaks at 128k worldwide

    30,000 work in the 195 buildings at Kodak Park, making film, paper and chemicals. Kodak also is turning out cameras and projectors at its Elmgrove plant in Gates and optics and Ektaprint photocopiers at its Hawkeye plant. Worldwide, the company empoys 128,000 - 40 percent of whom are in Rochester. The company enters the medical diagostics market with its Ektachem blood test analyzers. Company reports revenues of $9.7 billion and profits of $1.12 billion for the year.
  • Disc photography unveiled

    Disc photography unveiled
    Kodak launches "disc photography" using a rotating disc of film. The Kodak Pavillion "Imagination" opens at Epcot Center in Orlando, Fla. Kodak ended its sponsorship of the pavillion in 2010.
  • 7000 jobs eliminated

    Kodak begins its cost-cutting years, eliminating 7,000 jobs worldwide. Colby H. Chandler becomes CEO.
  • Kodak begins selling floppy discs and VCR tapes

    Kodak begins selling floppy discs and VCR tapes
    Kodak launches its own line of floppy discs for personal computers and videotape cassettes.
  • Polaroid wins patent suit

    A federal court rules that Kodak's instant photography technology violates Polaroid patents. In 1991, Kodak paid Polaroid $925 million in damages.
  • Layoffs amid business diversification

    Layoffs amid business diversification
    Kodak announces plans to cut its worldwide workforce of 130,000 by 10 percent. That includes roughly 5,000 employees locally. Company scientists design and build the world's first megapixel sensor. Kodak enters the consumer battery market with Ultralife Premium Battery Cells and Ultraife Alkaline Batteries. And it branches out into healthcare with creation of its Eastman Pharmaceuticals Division. Two years later it bought pharmaceutical company Sterling Drug Inc.
  • "Filmless" photography

    Kodak enters the "filmless" photography market with products for electronically recording, transmitting and printing images - the precursor to today's digital photography. Extensive chemical spills are found in the soil at Kodak Park.
  • Photo CD systems

    Photo CD systems
    Kodak announces its Photo CD system that puts images on a photo CD for viewing on a television screen or computer monitor. Kay Whitmore becomes CEO.
  • Professional Digital Camera System launches

    Kodak launches is Professional Digital Camera System, which used a Nikon F-3 camera and Kodak sensor to take electronic photos.
  • Eastman Checmical spun off

    Eastman Checmical spun off
    The 73-year-old Eastman Chemical Co. is spun off. It is headquartered in Tennessee. George M.C. Fisher becomes CEO.
  • Health businesses sold

    Kodak sells off its non-imaging-related health businesses.
  • Copier division sold

    Kodak sells its office copier division to Heidelberg.
  • Carp named CEO

    Carp named CEO
    Daniel Carp becomes CEO.
  • New business strategy

    Kodak unveils a five-pronged business strategy that focuses on digital technology and pushes into commercial businesses. The five are commercial printing, display and components, health imaging, digital and film imaging systems, and commercial imaging.
  • Dramatic cuts and move to commercial printing

    Kodak announces it will cut 12,000 to 15,000 jobs worldwide and shed a third of its real estate worldwide. It purchases digital printing busines Scitex Ltd. of Israel, renaming it,Kodak Versamark Inc., and absorbs Heidelberg Digital and NexPress commerical printing businesses, as part of an acceleratiing push into commerical printing. Kodak is delisted from the Dow Jones industrial average.
  • Perez named CEO

    Perez named CEO
    Antonio M. Perez named CEO
  • First inkjet printer

    First inkjet printer
    Kodak launches its Easyshare All-in-One desktop inkjet printer line. It sells its health imaging business to Onex Corp. That business is headquartered in Rochester and operates as Carestream Health Inc.
  • Inkjet commercial printing technology unveiled

    Inkjet commercial printing technology unveiled
    Kodak unveils its Stream inkjet commercial printing technology. After the summer games in Beijing, Kodak ends its decades-old sponsorship of the Olympics.
  • Kodachrome discontinued

    Kodachrome discontinued
    Kodak ends its Kodachrome line, suspends its 25-cent semiannual dividend and does not pay an annual wage dividend bonus to workers, though it reinstates that in 2010.
  • New business strategy

    Kodak lays out a strategy that has it turning profitable in 2012 due to growth of four specific business lines - commercial and consumer inkjet printing, packaging printing and workflow software. The company also says it will pull back on its digital camera sales, looking only at profitable markets instead of worldwide distribution. Kodak filed for bankruptcy on January 19, 2011.
  • Bankrupcty plan approved in federal court

    Bankrupcty plan approved in federal court
    U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper approved the company’s Chapter 11 reorganization plan, saying "(Kodak’s) decline and bankruptcy is a tragedy of American economic life.” Kodak CEO Antonio Perez said: "“There are additional transactional steps ahead as we complete our Chapter 11 restructuring, but with the court’s decision today, our emergence is now imminent.”
  • Clarke named CEO

    Clarke named CEO
    Jeffrey J. Clarke was named CEO, replacing Antonio Perez. Clarke, 52, was managing partner of Augusta Columbia Capital, a New York investment firm specializing in technology companies. Prior to that, he was chairman of Travelport Inc., a travel technology firm. He was born in Ithaca and graduated from SUNY Geneseo.