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Updated on December 15, 2009
Photo by Robert Aichinger
Photo by Robert Aichinger

Kodak is a word coined as a trademark by George Eastman and applied to his camera, the first commercial model of which appeared in 1888. The original Kodak was a small box camera, of the fixed-focus type, which took round pictures 2 1/2 inches in diameter and carried a roll of film sufficient for 100 exposures. When all were exposed, the camera was returned to the factory where the film was removed and processed, and the camera reloaded. "You press the button, we do the rest" became the company's widely advertised slogan. The advent of the Kodak, a simple, hand-portable, inexpensive camera, practically marked the beginning of amateur photography.

The roll film used in the first model had a paper base, but this was soon superseded by a more practical transparent, flexible film with a cellulose base. The first films had to be loaded into the camera and unloaded in a darkroom. This handicap was overcome by the introduction of the film cartridge system with its protecting strip of nonactinic paper, making it possible to load and unload in ordinary light.

The early Kodak cameras were of the box type, with fixed focus, although as various sizes were marketed, devices for focusing the lenses were incorporated. The first folding Kodak, equipped with a folding bellows for greater compactness, was introduced early in the 1890's, and the first pocket Kodak appeared in 1895. This camera was of the box type, slipped easily into an ordinary coat pocket, and produced negatives 1 1/2 by 2 inches. The first folding pocket Kodak camera was introduced in 1898.


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