Snapshot: The Kodak Brownie

Commercial for Kodak Mannequin No 1 (1888)

No man did extra to carry pictures to peculiar folks than did George Eastman (1854-1932). The aim of this publish is to briefly inform that story.

George Eastman circa 1890

Eastman, who had two sisters, was born right into a profitable household on a small farm in upstate New York. When his father’s well being started to fail the household moved to Rochester, New York. His father would die in 1862 when younger George was eight and his mom was pressured to soak up boarders as a way to make ends meet. Amongst these boarders could be the Henry Strong household. Sturdy would turn out to be and stay a life-long good friend and enterprise companion of Eastman (he served as president of Eastman Kodak from its inception till his dying in 1919). As for George, he would start working full time at age 14 as an workplace boy (his work week was 10 hours per day, six days per week at $Three per week). Eastman was a sensible and diligent younger man who was steadily advancing within the work world. At seventeen, he started work for a Rochester insurance coverage firm for a wage of $41 per thirty days plus the $eight per thirty days he earned as a volunteer fireman, and by age 20 he was making $700 per yr as a clerk on the Rochester Financial savings Financial institution. A yr later he acquired a promotion to a place at a wage of $1,000 per yr, which might be high-quality wage on the time for a middle-aged married man with.a household. It should have appeared a princely sum for the 20-year previous bachelor.

In 1877, Eastman purchased a digicam and took up pictures as a passion. Images at the moment was neither a cheap nor a fast and simple passion to take up. His first pictures “kit” was of the collodion or wet plate process and value $50. The package included a big, heavy digicam, a tripod, a plate holder for photographic plates, a tent which might function a darkroom, a nitrate tub, and a number of other bottles of varied chemical compounds. In an effort to take {a photograph} along with his package, he wanted to be in darkroom tent (closed) and carry out the next steps; coat a glass plate with a skinny answer of egg white, then lay an emulsion of gun cotton and alcohol blended with bromide salts, when the emulsion was set however nonetheless moist dip the plate in an answer of nitrate of silver and protect it from gentle as he put it within the digicam. Eastman thought there needed to be a better strategy to put together to take images. He then took it upon himself to search out that manner.

And pursue it he did. Though he had no coaching in chemistry, he learn pictures journals, contacted skilled photographers and picked their brains, and experimented endlessly within the lab he arrange for that goal (he labored within the lab from the time he acquired off work every day till breakfast the next morning every day). Two years later he had invented an emulsion that enabled exposures to be made with a dry plate and had additional designed a machine to coat the plates in amount and had arrange a enterprise promoting the plates (the Eastman Dry Plate Firm) and obtained patents in each the US and England (which was the photographic capital of the world on the time). After all Eastman was removed from the one one pursuing higher photographic strategies. Among the many others have been two brothers, David and Peter Houston of Cambria, Wisconsin who had developed and patented roll film and a roll movie holder which was ultimately licensed to Eastman’s firm.

Patent Drawings for the Kodak Mannequin No 1 (1888)

Even with the roll movie license, the Eastman firm continued to experiment and make enhancements with roll movie and the roll movie course of. In 1888, Eastman would carry a product to market that will revolutionize pictures. That product was a roll movie digicam Eastman referred to as the Kodak Model No. 1. How he got here up with the title Kodak isn’t completely clear. He stated he preferred the letter Okay, it sounded sturdy and he additionally thought that the phrase could be pronounced the identical in each language (whether or not that’s the case I do know not). The small digicam slot in a cardboard field(3-1/4″ x 3-3/4″ X 6-1/2″ in size) had an imitation leather-based end and nickel fittings. As for the digicam itself, the 57 mm lens was centered on one face alongside the longitudinal axis, there was no viewfinder – a V notched into the case indicated the course to goal the digicam, the lever to rewind and advance the movie and a string pull to wind the barrel shutter to pressure have been positioned on the highest of the field, and the lens was fixed-focus however it had an incredible depth of subject which allowed for centered pictures from as close to as a number of toes away. The digicam got here with a pre-loaded 100 publicity roll of movie however had no publicity counter for which Kodak supplied every digicam proprietor with a Kodak Memorandum which supplied a method by which the digicam’s proprietor may preserve observe of the images she’s taken. When the roll was completed the proprietor would mail within the digicam to Kodak and Kodak would develop the movie which produced round photographs 2-1/2 inches in diameter, reload the digicam with one other 100 publicity roll and return the package deal inside 10 days for 10 {dollars}.

The Kodak Mannequin 1 was a hit and will be stated to have created the idea of the novice photographer. Within the first yr, 13,000 folks purchased the Kodak; however, at a worth of $25 it was nonetheless out of attain for a lot of. Inside a yr or two the digicam could be outfitted with a viewfinder, clear nitrocellulose movie (a significant breakthrough), an publicity counter and a lens that might be adjusted to a number of pre-set values. This means of continuous refinement and enchancment of its’ merchandise on an annual foundation would turn out to be normal working process for the corporate. Though Eastman had little formal training, he noticed the worth in having technically skilled staff and he employed college-trained chemists and engineers early on each to work on current merchandise but additionally to pursue analysis into applied sciences that didn’t but exist in order that Kodak might be the primary there. Earlier than discussing the Brownie I ought to observe that the principle designer for the Mannequin No. 1 (and the Brownie as effectively) was Frank Brownell. Brownell, a Canadian by beginning, had moved to upstate New York and was working as a cupboard maker when Eastman first contracted with him to make components for a rollfilm holder.

On Left: Field, carrying case, digicam, felt lens plug, handbook, memorandum and viewfinder card. On Proper: Pattern Picture with Kodak Mannequin No 1
Kodak Memorandum for recording photographs taken
Picture of youngsters wading on the seashore with a Kodak Mannequin No 1

In 1900 Eastman launched the Kodak Brownie. Not often in historical past has a product been each so successful (each quick and long-term) and so impactful. The Brownie was a small, low-cost (it bought for $1) field digicam with a fixed-focus lens with a depth of subject (f/14 aperture) such that photos have been in focus from a number of toes to infinity. The roll movie for the digicam, which produced 2-1/4″ sq. photographs, was bought individually in six publicity rolls for a dime, whereas that six publicity roll could be developed by Kodak for 15 cents. Within the first yr, 150,000 Brownies have been bought and the Brownie digicam in a single kind or one other was a part of the Kodak product line for the higher a part of eight many years. Now anybody may afford a digicam!

Kodak Brownie Digicam with authentic packaging
Brownie Digicam with components clearly labeled

Concerning the Brownie moniker; it referred to the cartoon characters The Brownies created by Palmer Cox, which have been in style on the time. And this will get me to the final merchandise about Eastman Kodak I wished to the touch on – promoting. Though I believe each the Kodak Mannequin 1 (1888) and (particularly) the Brownie would’ve been business successes with out the aggressive and modern advertising and marketing by Eastman due to the beforehand unknown want they glad to memorialize occasions by taking photos, the Eastman promoting actually didn’t damage. The advertising and marketing for the 1888 Mannequin 1 emphasised the convenience of operation of the digicam “You press the button – – – – – We do the rest.” The advertising and marketing additionally reminded folks of the three easy steps concerned with the Kodak – 1) flip the important thing (to wind the movie), 2) pull the string (to set the shutter, and three) press the button (to take the image. Easy, proper? With the Brownie that ease of operation facet was nonetheless part of the story. Nevertheless, the Brownie was additionally particularly marketed as one thing younger youngsters may simply and safely participate in as image takers. That was a part of the explanation behind the Brownie title. And, lastly from the start Eastman promoting featured ladies as image takers. Oh, and different factor they tried to make the work Kodak right into a verb in addition to a noun as in “Let the Children Kodak.”

Advert for First Brownie Digicam
Kodak Advert circa 1910
Let the Youngsters Kodak
Kodak Advert Australia
Kodak Advert Outdoorswoman
Kodak Advert On the Seashore

For many who is likely to be , pasted beneath is a brief 4 and a half minute video displaying the workings of the Kodak Brownie.

I believe this 1969 music by the Kinks – “People Take Pictures of Each Other” is nearly as good a manner as any to finish this publish.

Revealed in General

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