Kodak formed a lens design department in 1914, recognizing the need for specialization in this area of camera design. They continued adding talented optical designers in Rochester throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Although camera design was done in the Kodak factories in Stuttgart and Harrow, lens design seems to have been the purviewof Rochester, since European Kodak models used either Kodak lenses, or later lenses from Schneider or Zeiss. Although Rudolf Kingslake profiles other Kodak lens designers in his books, he never attributes lens designs to himself, either through modesty or perhaps because his responsibilities were more administrative than technical.


  Charles W. Frederick (1870-1942 ) was born in Iowa, received a degree from the University of Kansas in 1892 and worked initially for the Naval Observatory in Washington, then as a professor of mathematics at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. In 1914, Mr Frederick was invited to establish a lens design department at Eastman Kodak in Rochester, although he had no had no experience with lens design. Others in the department were F. E. Ross, G. W. Moffitt, G. S. Dey and Max Zwillinger. Mr Frederick was in charge of optical design for Kodak until his retirement in 1938, when he was succeeded by Rudolf Kingslake, who joined Kodak in 1937.  

Willy E. Schade (1889-1973) was born in Braunschweig, Germany and got his first experience in optics in with Voigtländer. He was in the German army during WWI and was wounded. After the war he worked at Goerz in Berlin, but lost his position in the mergers of several small optical companies with Zeiss in 1926. He emigrated to the U. S. and took a position as lens designer with Ilex in Rochester. In 1932 he accepted a position in the Kodak Optics department, where he designed many of their best lenses. He retired in 1958 and returned to Braunschweig to spend his remaining years.

Kingslake described him as: "An old-fashioned designer (who) remained faithful to the book of six figure logarithms until his retirement, although he had no objection to his assistants using any computing aids they desired. He used to wear out a copy of Bremiker's logarithms every year!"


  Fred E. Altman (1893-1964) was born in Altoona, PA, and grew up in Iowa. He studied at Iowa State College, but could not complete a degree because of family financial responsibilities. In 1915, at 22, he began work as a technician in the physics department of Kodak Research Laboratories and, as his talent for optical design was recognized, he was transferred to the Scientific Department of the Hawk-Eye Works as assistant to C. W. Frederick. He learned very quickly and had "a genius for intutitive lens design." In just a few months after confronting logarithms he completed successful lens designs, including a four-element anastigmat that Kodak used extensively. He created outstanding Heliar designs , that rank among the best lenses ever created.  
      Source: Rudolf Kingslake, A History of the Photographic Lens, 1989

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