Download audioCelebrating the Spirit of Enterprise and a Famous Camera

This month we pass an anniversary worth remembering.  It was 100 years ago, in February 1900, that George Eastman first introduced the Kodak Brownie box camera.  The price was one dollar; film was 15 cents a roll.  For the first time, taking pictures was within the reach of almost every American family. 

The Brownie inaugurated the era of modern photography and was a cultural phenomenon in America.  Millions were sold.  Thousands of American youngsters signed up as members of The Brownie Camera Club and entered Kodak photo contests. 

But Eastman didn't come up with his invention without hardship. His company nearly went bankrupt in the 1880s. But in America's golden age of invention, when taxes were low and rewards for persistent effort were great, Eastman met success.

Americans will take around 70 billion pictures this year, all of them descended from the Kodak Brownie, the first mass-produced camera.  George Eastman became one of America's greatest success stories and gave away more than $100 million dollars to universities and charities before his death in 1932.

If, as the saying goes, one picture is worth a thousand words, then the story of George Eastman and the Kodak Brownie is worth 70 billion pictures.

For the Mackinac Center, I'm Catherine Martin.