George Eastman (July 12, 1854 – March 14, 1932) was an American innovator and entrepreneur who founded the Eastman Kodak Company and popularized the use of roll film, helping to bring photography to the mainstream. Roll film was also the basis for the invention of motion picture film in 1888 by the world's first film-makers Eadweard Muybridge and Louis Le Prince, and a few years later by their followers Léon Bouly, Thomas Edison, the Lumière Brothers, and Georges Méliès.
He was a major philanthropist, establishing the Eastman School of Music, and schools of dentistry and medicine at the University of Rochester and in London; contributing to the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the construction of several buildings at MIT's second campus on the Charles River. In addition he made major donations to Tuskegee and Hampton universities, historically black colleges in the South. With interests in improving health, he provided funds for clinics in London and other European cities to serve low-income residents.
In his final two years, Eastman was in intense pain caused by a disorder affecting his spine. On March 14, 1932, Eastman shot himself in the heart, leaving a note which read, "To my friends: my work is done. Why wait?"
The George Eastman House, now operated as the International Museum of Photography and Film, has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
By Dean Hanley
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