Maria Kilbourn Eastman c. 1850

In September 1888 Eastman formally registered his coined word Kodak as a trademark. Some such combination of letters had been rolling around in Eastman’s mind during the past year or so, when he had been trying to come up with a suitable name for a “little roll-holder breast camera” he was designing to match the failed Eastman detective camera.

In his application to the comptroller of the British patent office, who required a full disclosure of the meaning and derivation of the name, Eastman wrote:

“Kodak,” This is not a foreign name or word; it was constructed by me to serve a definite purpose. It has the following merits as a trade-mark word:

First. It is short
Second. It is not capable of mispronunciation.
Third. It does not resemble anything in the art and cannot be associated with anything in the art except the Kodak.

Eastman did not mention that K was his favorite letter (it was the first letter of his mother’s maiden name), but that detail didn’t matter. The “K” camera he had been referring to in his letters and conversation officially became the Kodak camera.

Douglass Collins, The Story of Kodak, 54-55