Kodak and consumer photography earn Historic Chemical Landmark designation

When photography was in its infancy, it was a complicated and cumbersome process accessible to a select few. But thanks to innovations that began in the late 19th century, George Eastman and the Eastman Kodak Company made photography feasible for everyone. On Oct. 3, the American Chemical Society (ACS) will honor that achievement with the National Historic Chemical Landmark designation.

The Landmark dedication ceremony will take place at 4:30 p.m. ET at the Kodak Center in Rochester, New York.

“This Landmark honors George Eastman, Eastman Kodak and the many generations of Kodak chemists, scientists and engineers who made photography an everyday part of our lives before the advent of smartphones and digital cameras,” says ACS President Angela K. Wilson, Ph.D. “Many of us remember the enjoyment of taking pictures, sending the film to be developed and waiting to see the printed photos.”

But back in George Eastman’s day, it was a different story. In 1878, he was planning a vacation to the Caribbean. He wanted to take photographs on the trip, so he bought a camera. But it was the size of a microwave oven. The chemicals and other supplies needed to prepare photographic plates, then capture and develop photos were even more cumbersome. The experience left him determined to find a better way.

Eastman modified the chemistry and equipment to make photography easier – so easy that even a child could take photographs. The company he founded, Eastman Kodak, ultimately revolutionized photography. Thanks to the firm’s advances, the size of cameras was reduced, and film production and development was simplified. Millions of people worldwide captured memories using cameras and film, leaving all the chemistry to Kodak. The ease of this process was summed up by the company’s slogan, “You press the button, we do the rest.”

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