When you take a selfie, thank George Eastman

George Eastman got a patent for his roll-fill box camera on September 4, 1888

A George Eastman plaque is shown at the George Eastman Memorial where Eastman's ashes rest in Rochester, N.Y., Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. (AP Photo/David Duprey)
A George Eastman plaque is shown at the George Eastman Memorial where Eastman's ashes rest in Rochester, N.Y., Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. (AP Photo/David Duprey)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Next time you take a selfie — probably today — say thanks to George Eastman.

On September 4, 1888, George Eastman received a patent for his roll-film box camera, and registered his trademark: “Kodak.” Why Kodak? He thought the letter K was a “strong, incisive sort of letter,” and devised the name Kodak with his mother’s help.

George Eastman, inventor, founding manufacturer of photographic equipment, the Eastman Kodak Company, and philanthropist to the city of Rochester, New York is photographed in Rochester in 1921. (AP Photo)
George Eastman, inventor, founding manufacturer of photographic equipment, the Eastman Kodak Company, and philanthropist to the city of Rochester, New York is photographed in Rochester in 1921. (AP Photo)

He also thought products should have their own identity, although later he amended the company’s name to Eastman Kodak.

As a young man he liked photography, but the equipment was so cumbersome. So he and William Hall Walker developed more flexible film and a camera that would automatically roll the film forward, making multiple exposures much easier — and brought photography to the masses.

He was also a forward-thinker in business practices.

Students pass a George Eastman statue on the University of Rochester campus in Rochester, N.Y., Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. (AP Photo/David Duprey)
Students pass a George Eastman statue on the University of Rochester campus in Rochester, N.Y., Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. (AP Photo/David Duprey)

“He was one of the first American industrialists to embrace and implement the concept of employee profit sharing in the United States, 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,” according to Bio.com.

The digital age decades later took its toll. In 2012, Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy. It emerged from bankruptcy a year later, but became a “commercial-printing company that sells nothing to consumers.The new, smaller Kodak has shed the cameras, film sales and consumer photo developing that made it a household name, focusing on printing technology for corporate customers, touch-screen sensor components for smartphones and computer tablets, and film for the movie industry.”

George Eastman never married. But his life’s legacy lives on in photography, in education and dental clinics he funded, in the way workers are treated.

And in the photographs we all take.

In his later years, he had a degenerative spinal condition and severe diabetes. On March 14, 1932 at the age of 77, George Eastman wrote a note:

“My work is done. Why wait?”

He took his own life with a single gunshot to his heart.

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