This week, photography fans may want to celebrate Throwback Friday instead of Thursday: It was on Sept. 4, 1888 that Kodak founder George Eastman received a patent for the original camera’s shutter and a trademark for the company’s name. Though Eastman didn’t invent the camera, his innovations—the small box camera with film that could be commercially processed—were critical steps in photography’s evolution from a trade practiced by a small set of professionals to something anyone could do. As Kodak’s slogan put it, You press the button, we do the rest.
“It’s the ‘we do the rest’ part that sets [the Kodak] apart,” explains Todd Gustavson, technology curator at George Eastman House and curator of the exhibition Kodak Camera at 125, on view there through the end of this year and from which the images above are taken. “It’s really the beginning of snapshot photography, which allows people to document their lives.”
As TIME explained in a 1928 cover story:
Read the full 1928 story, here in the TIME Vault: George Eastman
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