Whatever happened to Henry M. Reichenbach, George [Kodak] Eastman's chemist?

Reichenbach, as well as some other mutineers, were shown the plank in the early days of Kodak. So far all information I’ve found on him ends at that date. I did find a blurb on one Henry Reichenbach, who was born in 1869 (which would put him at the right age to work with Kodak), and died in 1957. That would mean he would have lived another 60 years after his dismissal, and 50 years after seeing his former boss become a multi-millionaire.

Anyway, what happened?

That last line should read:

If that is the same Henry Reichenbach, that would mean he would have lived another 60 years after his dismissal, and 50 years after seeing his former boss become a multi-millionaire.

Since I have not been able to corroborate that.

I can find an article in a Syracuse newspaper from 1976 detailing the history of Kodak. It mentions in the article that Eastman hired a young chemist(Henry M. Reichenbach) from the university around 1888, and that Reichenbach developed the transparent film in 1889. So that would perhaps fit with your findings.

I also found articles detailing a Henry M. Reichenbach in 1914/15 which indicate that he was a successful petrochemical chemist. I’ll post more as I find it.

Carl W. Ackerman’s biography of George Eastman, published in 1930, has a few references to Reichenbach.

He was an assistant to University of Rochester professor Samuel Lattimore when he was hired in August 1886. Eastman wrote at the time that he had hired “a young chemist who devotes his time entirely to experiments.” It’s barely possible that Reichenbach could have been only 17 at that time, but it’s not very likely.

Reichenbach was fired in January of 1892, I think. The book doesn’t give the year on that page and the chronology before and after is rather scrambled. But 1892 seems to fit best from the other references and there’s a letter of January 19, 1892 in which Eastman talks of a “temporary set-back.”

The books goes on to say:

There is a footnote on that page that is really the only later information on Reichenbach in the book:

John Braxton’s 1996 biography of Eastman gives more details about Reichenbach’s career after Kodak. If it’s a subject that interests you, this book would seem to be a wealth of information.

It puts the date of his dismissal as New Years Day, 1892 – based on a letter from Eastman to Reichenbach and two other men. He accused them of seeking to start their own, competing company, and that’s exactly what they did.

Braxton reports that this company “The Photo Materials CompanY” folded in 1896. A subsequent effort by Recihenbach and two other Kodak defectors closed its doors by mid-1899. Shortly after, Reichenbach “resurfaced in London, where he was to be the chemist for a new company.”

Reichenbach was embroiled in a patent infringement lawsuit with Reverend Hannibal Goodwin. Surprisingly, Eastman helped Reichenbach defend his patents in court.

Could this be the Reverend who James Burke said (in either Connections or THe Day the Universe Changed) invented celluloid film first, only to be litigated to death by Kodak? If that’s the case, then I can understand why Eastman put up the money to defeat him in court, even if he had to give the money to a turncoat former employee – he was using him a a proxy to defend his own turf.

It’s indeed the same guy.

I thought everyone knew what happened to Reichenbach…

He fell.
:eek: :slight_smile: :smiley: :smack:
<runs away and hides>