This subject has a rich history attached to it. In order to understand the full discovery and development of moving pictures, we must study the various elements of not only this medium, but all others which are related to cinematography and especially photography. This timeline will provide more than a substantial glimpse into the discoveries of these elements which include; optics, pinhole images, camera obscura, persistence of vision, showmen, magic lanterns, light, lenses, light-sensitive substances, phantasmagoria, motion study analysis, photography, and stop-action series photography in the overall growth of photography and ultimately, the movement of pictures.

This chronology is presented in fifteen chapters, and represents an exhaustive and historical overview on the subject of cinematography. It encompasses among others, the works of Layard, Sophocles, Herodotus, Empodocles, Mo Ti, Plato, Aristotle, Democritus, Euclid, Archimedes, Shao Ong, Vitruvius, Lucretius, Pablius Statius, Pliny, Seneca, Heron, Ptolemy, Ting Huan, Galen, Boethius, Geber, Chao-Lung, Kuang-Hsien, Alhazen, Avicena, Shen Kua, Averroes, Grosseteste, Bacon, Magnus, Witelo, Peckham, Saint-Cloud, Villeneuve, Gershon, Fontana, Alberti, Gainsborough, Vinci, Maurolycus, Caesariano, Durer, Reinhold, Gemma-Frisius, Cardano, Porta, Barbaro, Fabricius, Diggs, Risner, Danti, Benedetti, Casciorolo, Kepler, Scheiner, Sala, Snell, D'Aguilon, Drebbel, Gassendro, Schwenter, Leurechon, Bate, Kircher, Descartes, Horrocks, Herigone, Martini, De Chales, Zahn, Niceron, Huygens, Schott, Walgensten, Vermeer, Reeves, Hooke, Boyle, D'Orleans, Balduin, Kohlans, Cellio, Homberg, Molyneux, Sturm, John Harris, Van Gravensande, Van Musschenbroek, Schulze, Bion, Cheselden, Guyot, Smith, Cuff, Caneletto, Costa, Nollet, Parrat, Dollond, De la Roche , Ledermuller, Martin, Van Loo , Brander, Sheraton, Schropfer, Priestley, Seraphin, Lambert, Boulton, Scheele, Joseph Harris, Storer, Charles, Wedgewood, Balsamo, Chretien, Guinard, Harrup, Robertson, Hare, Davy, Philipsthal, Wollaston, Niepce, Brewster, Chevalier, Talbot, Herschel, Dageurre, Gurney, Birckbeck, Roget, Ritchie, Fitton, Paris, Drummond, Barker, Farraday, Wheatstone, Plateau, Stampfer, Marey, Janssen, Anschutz, Muybridge, Horner, Donisthorpe, Lumiere's, Goodwin, Eastman, Dickson, Casler, Friese-Greene, Carbutt, LePrince, Edison and others.
Early Cinema Presentation Marion reported in his book, of the work of GIOVANNI BATTISTA DELLA PORTA. In reference to the images that Porta observed through the camera obscura effect, Marion stated; "this was the first attempt at the formation of a camera obscura, an instrument that has bestowed such incalculable benefits on humanity". These were engaging words indeed, although the research involved was limited. However, like others before and since, Marion failed to delve deeper into the true history of the camera obscura, a discovery which would lead to photography, and ultimately, cinematography. We hereby take the liberty to present such a history . . .
This is a retrospective history of the dawn of film, and a pre-history of cinema itself. The body of this text deals with the origin of motion pictures and the ancestors of cinema beginning from approximately nine hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ our Saviour, and culminating in the final decade of the nineteenth century. Film historians differ in their opinion of what is the birth year of film. There are some who put it as early as the 80's and others who claim it to be as late as 1897. Regardless, motion pictures were born when the technical aspects of the primitive camera, and projector were combined with celluloid. For instance, Donisthorpe and Le Prince both pre-date what is considered the premiere films of Lumiere. Yet they receive little if any attention due to the lack of commercialism.

Our purpose here is not to induce controversy around the parentage of commercial cinema, or the year it finally came of age. It is to provide factual data on the grounds of well documented material. We will allow the reader to decide on the importance of genealogy.
A Brief History of Pre Cinema
Cinematography is defined simply as the illusion of movement by projecting in rapid fashion, many still pictures. Also known as motion pictures, movies or moving pictures, cinematography is a product of nineteenth century ingenuity and experimentation.

Motion pictures came to be as the result of numerous other inventions. A large segment of the discoverers came from the new field of photography. Many more came from those who worked with magic lanterns. Some were interested in projecting images, and then others studied how images could be recorded on different materials such as leather and paper. But these were not the only men interested in watching real-life motion unfold before their eyes.

People like Oliver Wendall Holmes desired to enhance prosthetics for post civil war amputees. Others like the scientist E. Jules Marey studied the motion of animals and particularly birds, in flight. British born American photographer Eadweard Muybridge also studied animals in motion but humans as well. By the end of the century, all of these discoveries, experiments and inventions came together to form the art we now call as movies, videos or cinema. Since man was first created, he has had an insatiable thirst to re-create his own movements. His first attempts were simple drawings of animals, showing them in their natural stride. Primitive, but effective enough for his needs and desires. And it is in fact this driving desire to not only create and re-create, but to continually improve on his previous works that allows for man to produce a superior, more enhanced version of the original.
Imitating Life in Motion Even before men desired to capture images on paper, and make them move, humans have been fascinated by such simple pleasures as eastern shadow plays, pinhole images and lanthorns. Whether it was observing images of light cast upon the ground through the intertwined leaves on trees, the ascending paper cut-outs from a flame or hand operated puppets in China and Greece, man has wanted to witness the reproduction of movement made by his own hands. Even Plato's cave images strike a tremendous similarity to today's movie.
Pinhole Images
Pinhole images have been seen since the time of Aristotle. What he saw were images and shapes flickering through the tiny holes made between several leaves crossing, and wickerworks. Pinhole photography on the other hand is the capturing of those images and shapes using no lens. A tiny hole replaces the lens. Light passes through the hole and an image is formed in the back wall of the camera. The image is of course upside down because light travels in straight lines and therefore crosses at the aperture (hole). If an outdoor scene is seen, the sky is at the bottom and ground at the top.
The basic optical principles of the pinhole are commented on in Chinese texts from the fifth century BC. Chinese writers had discovered by experiments that light travels in straight lines. The philosopher Mo Ti was the first to record the formation of an inverted image with a pinhole or screen. Mo Ti was aware that objects reflect light in all directions, and that rays from the top of an object, when passing through a hole, will produce the lower part of an image. There is no further reference to the camera obscura in Chinese texts until the ninth century AD, when Tuan Chheng Shih refers to an image in a pagoda. Shen Kua later corrected his explanation of the image. Yu Chao-Lung in the tenth century used model pagodas to make pinhole images on a screen.
In Greece, Aristotle (fourth century B.C.) comments on pinhole image formation in his work Problems. In Book XV, 6, he asks: "Why is it that when the sun passes through quadri-laterals, as for instance in wickerwork, it does not produce a figure rectangular in shape but circular?" In Book XV, 11, he asks his readers: "Why is it that an eclipse of the sun, if one looks at it through a sieve or through leaves, such as a plane-tree or other broadleaved tree, or if one joins the fingers of one hand over the fingers of the other, the rays are crescent-shaped where they reach the earth? Is it for the same reason as that when light shines through a rectangular peep-hole, it appears circular in the form of a cone?" Aristotle found no satisfactory explanation to his observation; the problem remained unresolved until the 16th century.
The Arabian physicist and mathematician Ibn Al-Haitam, also known as Alhazen, experimented with images seen through the pinhole in the tenth century AD. He arranged three candles in a row and put a screen with a small hole between the candles and the wall. He noted that images were formed only by means of small holes and that the candle to the right made an image to the left on the wall. From his observations he deduced the linearity of light. In the following centuries the pinhole technique was used by optical scientists in various experiments to study sunlight projected from a small aperture.
Pinhole cameras are small or large, improvised or designed with great care. Cameras have been made of sea shells, many have been made of oatmeal boxes, coke cans or any size of box. Cameras have been cast in plaster like a face mask, constructed from beautiful hardwoods, built of metal with bellows and a range of multiple pinholes. Even cars have been used as pinhole cameras and rooms in large buildings. In fact the camera obscura effect (pinhole images seen within a camera) was first seen inside large rooms. The showman Villanova performed scenes outside a room which had a small hole in one wall. Patrons sat inside and watched "cinema". The accompanying sounds heard outside matched the scenes viewed inside!
Pinhole images are softer and less sharp than pictures made using a lens. The images have nearly infinite depth of field and wide angle images remain absolutely rectilinear. On the other hand, pinhole images suffer from greater chromatic aberration than pictures made with a simple lens, and they tolerate little enlargement. Exposures are long, ranging from half a second to several hours. Images are exposed on film or paper - negative or positive; black and white, or color.
The Camera Obscura Effect
We will look at the effect of the original 'camera' in it's most obscure form being able to provide a picture, but not capable of retaining it. For three centuries alone, a fundamental piece of equipment, the camera obscura, had been known to man (not to mention pinhole images which pre-date the camera obscura and were the actual effect). A great new toy of sophistication and delight, but it had little to offer in the way of long-lasting enjoyment. It eventually found it's place in history but not before being used as a simple drawing aid.
In the Renaissance and later centuries the pinhole was mainly used for scientific purposes in astronomy. But as time went by the pinhole image (now known as a camera obscura) was used more and more as a drawing aid for artists and painters. Even Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) described the pinhole image in his Codex Atlanticus. The pinhole image had come of age, and was placed in a box, or room. Giovanni Battista della Porta (1538-1615), a scientist from Naples, was long regarded as the inventor of the camera obscura because of his description of the camera obscura in the first edition of his Magia Naturalis (1558). His description has received much publicity, as did his camera obscura shows, but he was not the true 'inventor'.
What appears to be the earliest ever illustration of the camera obscura is found in a book by Johannes De Fontana in 1420. The drawing shows a nun holding a vertically-shaped camera with an image on the inside. The image has been identified as a magic lantern by some but can only be attributed to the camera as the image is clearly on the inside. Magic lanterns projected their images.
Gemma Frisius, an astronomer, had used the pinhole in his darkened room to study the solar eclipse of 1544. He described it along with a description in his 'De Radio Astronomica et Geometrica' (1545).The very term camera obscura ("dark room") was coined by Johannes Kepler (1571-1630). At his time, the term had come to mean a room, tent or box with a lens aperture used by artists to draw a landscape. The lens made the image brighter and focused at a certain distance. Thus this type of camera differed from the pinhole camera obscura used by Frisius in 1544. In the 1620s Johannes Kepler invented a portable camera obscura. Camera obscuras as drawing aids were soon found in many shapes and sizes. They were used by both artists and painters.
During the 19th century several large scale camera obscuras were built as places of education and entertainment. The meniscus lens, superior to the bi-convex lens, improved the quality of the the projected images. Several buildings or towers with camera obscuras remain today: The Camera Obscura at Royal Mile, Edinburgh; the Great Union Camera at Douglas, Isle of Man; the Clifton Observatory at Bristol, England; the camera obscura at Portmeirion, North Wales; the camera obscura at Santa Monica, California, and others. A few large scale camera obscuras have been built in the 20th century. The Giant Camera at Cliff House, San Francisco is scheduled for demolition at the time of this writing. A group is fighting to keep it from being destroyed.
As most students of film know, the origin of moving pictures goes back well beyond Mary Pickford and Charles Chaplin. Contributions over two millennia by many people, comprise the whole story of putting the full and complete picture together of how we now view re-created motion in the form of motion pictures, or movies. As going to the theatre today is like looking through a window on the world, with all it's created beauty and magnificence, so too will we now look back through the window of time to study the people and properties of cinematography.
Camera Obscura from Athanasius Kircher's Ars Magna Lucis Et Umbra (The Great Art of Light and Shadow) 1646. Originally, camera obscuras were the size of rooms and thus take their name from the latin 'dark room'. (Ars Magna, 1st ed. vol.10, plate 28 of vol.10, sec. 2, 1646)
Kircher's Room Camera Obscura 1646
The Magic Lantern
The magic lantern, a projector with a future that would inevitably become one of the most famous and entertaining inventions in history, in many ways surpassing that of the automobile and airplane combined. In it's primitive state, the magic lantern was the forerunner of our current day slide projector and overhead. It however, was without motion. Void of fluidity yet electrifying and exhilarating in it's presentation. This little tin box with a chimney was only one of many vital components that make up the art of seeing pictures "move". And they all have their special place in the story, and history of cinematography.
Tin Lantern With Chimney The little tin box with a chimney, the Magic Lantern. In 1640, Athanasius Kircher will present a slide show recognized to be the first use of the candle-lit lantern.
The Magic Lantern is an ancient projector originally illuminated by candles and oil lamps. Considered to be black magic, sorcery and witchcraft when originally developed during medieval times, its inventors were at times considered sorcerers to achieve the effects created by projecting images on a screen. This thinking was perpetuated in the 18th and 19th centuries with the coming of the phantasmagorie.
DaVinci's Lantern Drawing 1515 It is commonly thought that the origins of the magic lantern go back to the early 17th century, almost two hundred years before the first photographs were made. Athanasius Kircher is the name synonymous with the magic lantern. However it must be mentioned that approximately one hundred and forty years before Kircher's lantern in 1644, Leonardo gave us an amazing drawing of a magic lantern. It clearly showed a condensing lens, candle and chimney. None of Leonardo's writings indicate any hint of him actually projecting images, however this illustration from the master strongly suggests a figure of some type between the candle and lens.
The magic-lantern is the precursor of the first motion picture projector. It was first seen and used around 1644-1645, and soon became a showman's instrument. At the close of the 17th century, travelling showmen (lanternists) would put on shows at any venue they could use including castles. The term "magic" lantern is derived from the fact that these shows featured devils, ghosts and goblins to name a few. The name Athanasius Kircher is most often heard when mentioning the lantern.
By the end of the nineteenth century, magic-lanterns were found everywhere; schools, homes, theatres, churches and most other public places. They became as integral a part of society as movie theatres are today. There were toy lanterns for children, large wooden and brass lanterns, with single, double and triple lenses. Lantern slides were hand-painted in full colour and projected onto a screen as large as movie screens today. Sound effects and musical accompaniment was provided by a soloist as part of the show and the audience.
The Phantasmagorie
In English this theatrical phenomenon was known as the Phantasmagoria. There were as many professionals at it as there were itinerant travelling showmen with their lanterns. One of the original and most elaborate of them all was E'tienne Gaspard Robert. He later changed his name to Robertson. His demonstrations of the lantern were slick theatrical productions designed and performed to scare people to death. Aparitions, ghosts and the like would appear from nowhere and literally frighten patrons from their seats. This macabre entertainment created quite a stir in the closing years of the 18th century.
The Phantasmagoria shows were often held in old run-down monasteries and chapels to add to the effect. The dark and sombre surroundings were ideal for special effects much like those created through Dolby surround sound and darkened theatres of today. Showmen used waxed sheets to catch images from "moving" lanterns on wheels and smoky rooms allowed images to float and "hang" in the air.

Joseph Boggs Beale (1841-1926)

Joseph Boggs Beale
Robertson's varied performances would often use multiple lanterns. Fades, pans, dolly shots and rear projection were some of the tools of the artists which today are taken for granted as modern Hollywood creations. In America, Joseph Boggs Beale was considered the foremost magic lantern artist.
Elaborate nineteenth century magic-lantern shows with a variety of themes were produced at the Royal Polytechnic Institute in London. The Polytechnic was built specifically for magic lantern shows and was part of a museum. As Terry Borten of the American Magic Lantern Theatre states;

"From 1838 to 1876, the Polytechnic produced extraordinary shows that dazzled two generations. The shows used giant lanterns with slides that were sometimes two feet long. Over 900 "Polytechnic" slides were exquisitely painted by the specialist firm of Childe and Hill, and Childe's dissolving views and elaborate special effects were an important part of the shows' popularity. The program was changed regularly during the year and included battlefront reports of the current wars, and fairy tales such as Aladdin's Lamp. The highlight of the year was The Christmas Special, featuring (of course) Dickens' classics like "Gabriel Grubb."

Persistence Of Vision
Man's ancient desire to make likenesses of himself and his environment found new satisfaction when he became able to reproduce movement through the fluid medium of film. As we can trace the history of photography back over centuries until the first photograph was taken in 1826 by Joseph Niepce, so can we look back to the ancestors of cinematography.
The first modern steps toward motion pictures were those taken in the direction of the study of persistence of vision. The investigation of this subject appears to have been conducted on a serious note by Peter Mark Roget in 1824. Roget presented a scientific paper detailing his studies and called it `Persistence of Vision with Regard to Moving Objects'. He provided an early definition of the phenomenon of the backwards wheel in forward motion, touching upon persistence of vision. The phenomenon itself was not only known in the 19th century. When one digs deep into the history of this subject we find that Aristotle himself spoke of after-images. Our retina at the back of the eye retains an image for approximately 1/14 of a second longer than the eye actually sees it. This explains why you don't see blackness when we blink. When we see a film, TV or even someone walking down the street, what we see are actually individual moments in time. In the case of a movie, we are seeing still frames at 24 frames each second. The pictures "blend" one into another, or appear to "move" because 24 units in a second is more, or faster than 14 units in a second. The eye can't keep up and we therefore see things as "fluid" or moving.
In 1832 Joseph A.F. Plateau and Simon Ritter von Stampfer in Vienna, Austria, independently of one another, discovered an identical method for creating the illusion. They used flat disks which were perforated with a number of evenly spaced slots. Around the rim of the disk were an equal number of hand-drawn figures. Each figure showed successive phases of movement. Holding the device with the figures facing a mirror, the viewer spun the disk and looked through the slots. The figures reflected in the mirror appeared to move. Plateau's device, the phenakistoscope, and Stampfer's, the stroboscope, led to the invention of more elaborate devices using the same principle, such as the zoetrope. Such optical "toys" became popular in 19th-century homes.
One of the most important constituents in the discovery of motion pictures was the photograph. Like almost all other discoveries throughout time, photography was the result of accumulated technical knowledge covering a period of no less than three hundred years. In fact, just like the pinhole image effect preceded the camera obscura's construction, so did the knowledge of light-sensitive substances precede the actual harnessing of the fixed image through the photograph. The effect of light on silver compounds had been known for almost one hundred years itself, dating back to 1727 when it was discovered that silver halides turned black when exposed to the sun. But the photograph by itself would have to wait patiently until the coming of celluloid before re-created motion could be achieved.
This text will examine that entire history, from the pin hole image to the screen. Our purpose is to provide the most thorough, exhaustive and sweeping view of every component which makes up the medium of film and to give life and sustenance to it in the process. Chronologically presented, THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE DISCOVERY OF CINEMATOGRAPHY encompasses an historical and factual re-creation of it's own, combining all of the properties of cinematography and the persons responsible for their discovery or invention, and linking those pieces together into an ever unfolding story. The actual vision that many of these personalities had during their involvement in this fascinating process of creativity, production and improvement is astounding.
Earliest Extant Photograph "View from the Window at Gras". Joseph Nicephore Niépce is credited with producing the world's first permanently captured "image", which he called a Heliograph (or Sun Drawing). Niépce's photograph was made in 1826 and was taken from a window looking out across the roof tops of the Niépce home. He used a pewter plate that was sensitized with bitumen of Judea. The photograph was made in a camera obscura and took an eight hour exposure. The extant photograph is 8" x 6.5" and resides at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin. It was discovered by chance, in the 1950's in London
View from the Window at Gras 1826
when found along with letters written by Niepce. The photograph is part of the Gernsheim Collection and is known as “View From The Window At Gras”. In 1813, Niépce obtained an image but it was not fixed, and eventually faded. (Courtesy the Gernsheim Collection, Ransom Centre, University of Texas, Austin), (Thanks to Robert Carter, Photographic Historical Society of Canada).
Two such men, each playing their own vital part in the unravelling of history as it pertains to the motion of pictures, were Eadweard Muybridge and Thomas Alva Edison.
Well documented throughout the history of photography are the photographs taken by Muybridge of cats, dogs and the famous trotting horse. Muybridge concentrated his life's work on the study of the motion of humans and animals. His work in stop-action series photography is only one example, by one man, of the continual and improving way this medium matured.
Thanks to a simple wager regarding the movement of a horse's legs during a trot, Muybridge began to pave the way for cinematography to become an eventual reality of this world. It was almost as if he knew the extent to which his work, and it's direction would go in the next century. He actually spoke of the coming of film during his last years. As quoted from the preface of his book "Animals In Motion" published in 1898, Muybridge writes . . . .

The combination of a Kinetoscope and Phonograph has not been satisfactorily accomplished. There can however be but little doubt that in the future . . . . an entire opera with the gestures, facial expressions, and songs of the performers with all the accompanying music, will be recorded and reproduced by an apparatus for the instruction or entertainment of an audience. And if the photographs have been made stereoscopically, and each series be independently and synchronously projected on a screen, a perfectly realistic imitation of the original performance will be seen, in the apparent "round", by the use of properly constructed binocular glasses."         -- Eadweard Muybridge

Muybridge's Zoopraxiscope 1879 Muybridge's Zoopraxiscope of 1879 (left) and a disk (right) (Zoopraxiscope & Disk courtesy Charl Lucassen)
A Zoopraxiscope Disk with painted Horse & Rider
Motion Study Analysis
By 1877 the increased speed of photographic emulsions and improved camera shutters made it possible to photograph rapid motions. Pioneers such as Muybridge and Marey were interested in motion rather than in photography. Their combined studies and experimentation's in stop-action series photography and motion study analysis have led to wonderful inventions within modern times. To study the gait of a running horse, Eadweard Muybridge, an English born book-seller turned photographer, set up on a racetrack in California a row of 12 cameras that had electric shutter controls. As a horse ran by the cameras, it tripped strings that activated the shutters and exposed the plates. Muybridge repeated the experiment using 24 cameras. In this way the first instantaneous photographs of un-posed, continuous motion were made. Muybridge's work led to many experiments in motion photography aimed at achieving the same results with a single camera.
This was first accomplished in 1882 by a Frenchman, Étienne-Jules Marey, who was also studying the movement of living things. Marey perfected the "photographic gun," shaped like a rifle but with a lens in the muzzle and photographic dry plates in the chamber. With only one pull of its trigger, 12 exposures were made in rapid succession. Marey later improved the gun by using emulsified paper film instead of dry plates and was able to take about 100 pictures a second. His paper film, however, could not be projected. The next important step in taking pictures was the development of a light-sensitive emulsion on Celluloid film. This was achieved by Hannibal Goodwin, an American amateur photographer from Newark, N. J., in 1887. A short time later George Eastman, also an American, marketed a similar transparent, flexible film to be used with the Kodak camera he invented. Celluloid film, though highly flammable, could be manufactured in continuous fashion, rapidly exposed by intermittent motion, quickly passed through a projecting device, and easily wound.
Another giant step taken towards motion pictures was the one taken by Baron Franz von Uchatius, an Austrian military officer, who combined the revolving disk principle with the magic lantern to project a series of phased drawings on a wall or screen. Uchatius perfected his projection apparatus between 1845 and 1853. His pictures could be viewed by a number of people at one time. During the years that these men were discovering how to make pictures move and how to project them, others were pioneering in the development of photography. By the middle of the 19th century, still photographs began to replace drawings on optical disks. However, due to the long exposure time required by the wet-plate process then in use, each phase of a motion had to be posed and photographed separately. By 1870, inventors in the United States and England had developed devices in which posed photographs of motion, mounted on a revolving disk, passed between a light source and a lens for projection for an audience. These mechanisms created an illusion of motion, but it was not yet possible for the photographer to capture on film the objects in motion.
Frenchman Louis-Augustin Le Prince who lived primarily in Leeds England, in 1888 patented a machine to film and project images using Celluloid film. Le Prince never showed his cinematograph pictures to anyone other that his co-workers and those in employment at the Whitley factory where he had his shop. This fact has lessened his impact on the history. Without an official announcement and documented coverage of a 'first showing', Le Prince was left out of predominance for the most part. However, no other strip of working film has been discovered that predates the Leeds bridge traffic scene of 1888. The extant film shot by Le Prince but never shown publicly or announced to the world, was presented seven years before the Lumiere's cafe presentation to workers in the Whitley factory where Le Prince performed his work. Le Prince used non-perforated sensitised paper for these frames which remain twenty in all.
Commercialization Of Film
The first people generally credited with using Celluloid film for motion pictures were the American inventor Thomas A. Edison and his assistant William K.L. Dickson. By 1890 they had developed the Kinetograph, a motion-picture camera using Eastman film. To view the film, the Edison laboratory developed the Kinetoscope, a peep-show type of machine in a cabinet. The machine ran a continuous 50-foot loop of 35-mm. film driven by sprockets. A revolving shutter allowed a brief glimpse of each image. On April 14, 1894, the first Kinetoscope parlour opened at 1155 Broadway in New York City. It was an arcade containing banks of Kinetoscope machines, which featured motion pictures of vaudeville acts, wild West and circus shows, and other entertainment. They were filmed at the "Black Maria," the world's first motion-picture studio, built by Edison at West Orange, N.J., in 1892-93. By the end of 1894, other Kinetoscope parlours had opened in the United States and Europe.
Perhaps better known for his contribution to the quality of life than the entertaining aspect of it, Edison wrote on the moral demeanour of the finished product to his contemporaries while being honoured at a birthday gala in 1924. He too saw the vast potential, not just from an entertainment aspect, but from a reputable and ethical one. Edison had an uncanny intuition and incredible foresight of what the future held. He spoke these words to motion picture industry executives almost thirty years after the first reels had been turned . . . . .

"I believe, as I have always believed, that you control the most powerful instrument in the world for good or evil. Remember that you are servants of the public and never let a desire for money or power prevent you from giving to the public the best work of which you are capable. It is not the quantity of riches that count; it is the quality that produces happiness, where that is possible. I wish you a prosperous, useful, and honourable future."         --Thomas A. Edison

Edison's 1902 Kinetoscope The success of Edison's machines inspired other experimenters to improve on his devices and to try to find a means of projecting films for large audiences. In 1895 a number of new motion-picture cameras and projection devices--some within the same machine--were demonstrated in the United States and Europe. The most successful was the Cinématographe--a combination camera, printer, and projector--invented by Louis and Auguste Lumière in France.

They gave their first private film show in March 1895, and in December they began public showings at the Grand Café in Paris. These were almost immediately popular, and in 1896 the Lumières converted a room at the café into the world's first cinema theatre. The Cinématographe spread rapidly through Europe, and in 1896 it was imported by the United States.

Edison's 35mm Kinetoscope of 1902 (left) (Courtesy Michael Rogge Collection)
To meet the competition of films projected on a screen, Edison arranged to manufacture the vitascope, a projector developed by Thomas Armat and Charles Francis Jenkins in the United States. The Armat-Jenkins projector was the first American one to use the principle of intermittent motion, allowing each frame to remain stationary on the screen for a brief time. Like the Europeans, Edison also developed a portable motion-picture camera that could take films anywhere. On April 23, 1896, Edison's first public performance using the vitascope opened at Koster and Bial's Music Hall in New York City with films of prizefighters, dancing girls, a scene from a play, and ocean waves. With the development of the vitascope, all of the basic tools of cinematography were finally available.
So it is with man in his more civilized and educated state when he draws on his innate and natural urge to expand and go beyond what his senses say is unexplainable. Society's magnetic attachment to watching films today is no different than the drawing power that pinhole images had on Aristotle. Nor is today's attraction to television, videos or computer games any stronger than Venetians of the 13th century viewing Villeneuve's moving shows. Great film directors of today pursue the finishing touches of their artwork at the same speed and obsession as the pioneer's of previous centuries pursued theirs.
Lumiere's Cinematographe 1895

Lumière Brothers 1895 Cinematographe (Right) (Courtesy Smithsonian National Museum of American History)

Only technology changes, and technology is the culminating factor in the final presentation of any product, especially in the medium of movement re-creation. In fact, technology is the final presentation because it becomes the improved version of itself. The subject matter of any scenario remains stationary among all versions until technological advances bring it to a new plateau, a new height of enjoyment through it's own technological phases of expansion.
Film has been defined as a photographic projection of continuous still images. In contrast to chronophotography, it has been called a technical device for achieving the illusion of motion by photographic means. Regardless of whatever description one gives to the definition of motion pictures, it remains without doubt, a monumental discovery within history.
I invite you now, to view the chronology of events leading from the pinhole image to the silver screen.

This is the genesis of the cinema.

     ~ Paul Burns

"Our invention can be exploited for a certain time as a scientific curiosity, but apart from that, it has no commercial future whatsoever."         --Auguste Lumière


Copyright © 2001 Paul T. Burns. All Rights Reserved. For reference use only. Last update: 02/26/2001

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