Wikimedia Commons

If you love taking pictures or if you have a passion for photography, you should know about George Eastman. Eastman was the inventor and founder of Kodak camera, which made photography accessible to the public. Though digital cameras have overpowered Kodak’s long legacy of market giant, Eastman’s invention was still the key that opened the door to amateur photography. Besides his contributions to photography, Eastman also started some incredible things that changed the fabric of history.

Profit sharing and stock options

Although Eastman Kodak had a monopoly of the photographic industry in the United States by 1927, he was far from being an average corporate industrialist. Instead of hoarding money like a shrewd businessman, he was the first American industrialist to introduce the concept of profit sharing in the U.S. In addition to having a system that enabled his employees to receive direct shares of profit, Eastman also gave monetary gifts to each of his workers and the option to buy stocks in his company.

Commitment to higher education

Throughout his life, Eastman supported education and health care, giving millions of dollars to higher education institutions. His money was instrumental in the expansion of the University of Rochester, creating the Eastman School of Music and the School of Medicine and Dentistry. Eastman also gave generous contributions to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tuskegee Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology, and many other academic institutions.

George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film 

Eastman donated about $100 million to various causes, mainly education and the arts. When he died in 1932, Eastman’s entire estate went to the University of Rochester. His former home was opened to the public and became the George Eastman House of International Museum of Photography and Film in 1949. The museum aims to preserve and develop world-class collection related to photography and cinema and preserve Eastman’s estate.

One man’s incredible legacy sowed the seeds for profit sharing, employee benefits, the development of higher education, and invaluable contributions to the arts. Eastman took his own life after being diagnosed with an incurable progressive disease. In a note he left behind, he wrote: “My work here is done. Why wait?”