American Inventions – Photographic Film

This day and age our ESL students truly take for granted the ease with which we are able to take pictures with digital cameras. Hancock International College is thankful for our student’s ability to communicate with their family and friends so they can remain connected to their home and stay positive while studying abroad. The reason this is all possible started with one man’s desire to streamline the photography process back in the 1800’s. Here is a part of the story of how Photographic Film was first made. says, “He was a high school dropout, judged ‘not especially gifted’ when measured against the academic standards of the day. He was poor, but even as a young man, he took it upon himself to support his widowed mother and two sisters, one of whom had polio.

He began his business career as a 14-year old office boy… and his ability to overcome financial adversity, his gift for organization and management, and his lively and inventive mind made him a successful entrepreneur by his mid-twenties, and enabled him to direct his Eastman Kodak Company to the forefront of American industry….

The camera was as big as a microwave oven and needed a heavy tripod. And he carried a tent so that he could spread photographic emulsion on glass plates before exposing them, and develop the exposed plates before they dried out. There were chemicals, glass tanks, a heavy plate holder, and a jug of water. The complete outfit ‘was a pack-horse load,’ as he described it. Learning how to use it to take pictures cost $5…

Eastman [became] completely absorbed in photography and sought to simplify the complicated process. He read in British magazines that photographers were making their own gelatin emulsions. Plates coated with this emulsion remained sensitive after they were dry and could be exposed at leisure. Using a formula taken from one of these British journals, Eastman began making gelatin emulsions.

He worked at the bank during the day and experimented at home in his mother’s kitchen at night. His mother said that some nights Eastman was so tired he couldn’t undress, but slept on a blanket on the floor beside the kitchen stove. After three years of photographic experiments, Eastman had a formula that worked. By 1880, he had not only invented a dry plate formula, but had patented a machine for preparing large numbers of the plates. He quickly recognized the possibilities of making dry plates for sale to other photographers.”

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Idiom of the Day

Kodak Moment

Meaning: A particularly poignant, memorable, or emotionally touching moment or event that should be captured in a photograph.

Example: I love the airport, it’s always full of Kodak moments as people eagerly greet family and friends coming off the planes.