I recently wrote about things over 100 years old. Well, one I left off the list was the Kodak camera – of particular interest because it was the make used by wildlife photographer Cherry Kearton whilst on service in East Africa with the Legion of Frontiersmen during World War 1.
The inventor of Kodak was George Eastman (1854- 1932) who explains:
Kodak – This is not a foreign name or word; it was constructed by me to serve a definite purpose. It has the following merits as a trademark word. First, It is short. Second: It is not capable of mispronuncuation. Third: It does not resemble anything in the art and cannot be associated wiht anything in the art except the Kodak.
In 1891 the first Kodak factory was set up in the UK, on the outskirts of London.
At the time the US entered the war in 1917, Eastman was releasing what he called ‘The Soldier’s Kodak Camera’ which was small enough for men to take across to the front.
Before this, however, the company had laid off ‘about 2/3 of [its] Harrow staff’ and was preparing to ‘put the remainder on short time’. All continental branches except one in Paris had been closed. (CA: p238)
When Eastman heard at Christmas 1916 that four of his German staff had been killed, he wrote to the manager:
You may continue paying their wives what is necessary up to one half of their salaries… I shall be glad to know how you are fixed and whether you need additional money…
The generosity of such wealthy men is often overlooked. Another was Ernest Oppenheimer who helped survivors of the torpedoed Galway Castle get back on their feet. He was on the ship himself, returning to South Africa, when it was hit on 12 September 1918.
Carl William Ackerman: George Eastman, 1930
Peter Brooke-Ball: George Eastman and Kodak, 1994
Harry Oppenheimer: Sir Ernest Oppenheimer