George Eastman (July 12, 1854 – March 14, 1932) founded the Eastman Kodak Co. and invented photographic film, which brought photography to the common man. The roll film was also the basis for the invention of the film stock in 1888 by world's first filmmaker, Louis Le Prince, and a decade later by his followers Léon Bouly, Thomas Edison, the Lumière Brothers and Georges Méliès.
Eastman was born in Waterville, New York, some 20 miles southwest of Utica, New York, in Oneida County, New York, New York. He was the third and youngest child of George Washington Eastman and Maria Kilbourn, both of the bordering town of Marshall, New York. In 1854, his father established Eastman’s Commercial College in Rochester, New York and moved the family to that city in 1860. Two years later, his father died and Eastman left high school to support the family and had begun working as an office boy by the age of 14.Kodak: History of Kodak: George Eastman - the man: About his Life
On September 4, 1888 Eastman registered the trademark Kodak, which was simply a combination 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, we do the rest."George Eastman - The History of Kodak and Rolled Photographic Film (2006). About.com. His new lightweight United States dollar25 camera could take 100 shots with one roll of film. Then, the owner could return it to Kodak for processing for a fee of $5, and the company would develop the film and return 100 pictures, along with a new roll of 100 exposure (photography).
Eastman endowed the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester, and chose as its first director Alfred Klingenberg, who was succeeded by the American composer and conductor Howard Hanson. 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 two years Eastman was in great pain. He had trouble standing and his walking became a slow shuffle that was caused by a (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 in 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 read, "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"). The Rochester Institute of Technology has a building dedicated to Mr. Eastman, in recognition of his support and substantial donations. MIT has a plaque of Eastman (the rubbing of which is traditionally considered by students to bring good luck) in recognition of his donation. Eastman 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, where his name can be found on the Eastman Quandrangle of the River Campus. His former home at 900 East Avenue in Rochester 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.
Courtesy of: http://www.wikipedia.org/