The 1800's

Motion Toys

As the popularity for the magic lanterns increased, people in Europe and the U.S. wanted to be able to use magic lanterns at home. In fact, during the 1800's, no dinner party was complete without a magic lantern presentation. Various image projection devices proliferate for enjoying at the home were created. These were small devices called motion toys that were very different from the standard magic lantern. All of the origins of these devices lay in scientific experimentation. One of these experiments was based on a new concept (for the 1800's) called the persistence of vision, which is the eye's capacity to retain an image, even after its source has been removed. This idea prompted various efforts to built mechanisms that could make separate still images into a single moving image. From this concept, a number of inventions for projecting images were created. Here is a list of each one and their creator:

  • Thaumatrope: created by John Ayrton in Paris in 1862. This was a round card attached to a string, while one side was a a picture of a horse and the other a picture of a man in a riding position. When the card was spun, it seem as if the man was riding the horse.
  • Phenakistoscope: created by several different inventors in the early 1800's. This was a plate sized slotted disk with sequences of images that when spun, the person looking though the slots of this device saw a moving image.
  • Zoetrope: created in the 1860's by several inventors and was very similar to the Phenakistoscope. It was a bowl like device with a strip of drawings around the interior circumference. When the bowl was spun, the viewer looked through slots where you could see a moving image. The word Zoetrope resurfaced when Francis Ford Coppola used this name for his production company and studio.
  • Praxiniscope: developed in the early 1870's by Emile Reynaud. It was almost the exact same things as the Zoetrope only it used mirrors.

The First Motion Picture Ever Made

In the year 1872, a man named Eadweard Muybridge began experimenting on capturing moving images. This man placed twelve cameras on a race horse track, spread thread across the track, and attached the thread into contact with a camera's shutter. Once the horse ran across the track, it's legs broke the threads, causing the cameras to operate in sequence. The ending results were 12 photos showing a horse's gait. With an invention of his called the Zoopraxiscope, he was able to quickly project these images, creating what is known as motion photography and the first movie to ever exist.

Theatre Optique

These motion toys soon began competing with the magic lantern. Among the midst of all of the competition, the man who created the praxiniscope developed the praxiniscope theatre which was known later known as the Theater Optique. This device was basically the exact same thing as a praxiniscope only it utilized a lantern which was used to project the images onto a large screen, making it possible for an audience to watch.

The Invention of Film

In 1885, two men named George Eastman and William H. Walker developed the very first reel of film. Film was sensitized paper created with a gelatin emulsion. One year later it was replaced by celluloid, which was a synthetic plastic material invented in the 1870's which was used in the chemical compound cellulose nitrate.

Eddison's Kintegraph and Kintescope:

The Kintegraph was created be Thomas Edison's British employee William Kennedy Laurie Dickenson. It was a machine that could capture a sequence of images which was similar to a camera only it automatically took a picture of the moving image every half second. The images were then placed in his other invention, the kintescope. This device had a motor and shutter mechanism that ran a loop of film past an electric light source. The spectator would then peer through a small window to see the moving image.

After these two inventions were created, the Lumiere brothers ( Auguste and Louis) created a light weight hand cranked mechanism called the Cinematographe. It could take pictures and could project large images quickly when it was linked with projecting equipment familiar from magic lantern shows.

With the Cinematographe invented, German, English, Italian, British, and American inventors were becoming "hot on their heels". The race to create the next big invention that could surpass everything created this far in the history of film was heating up. The transition of film into the 1900's was stimulated by the increasing competition among the many inventors, the easy reproducibility of film, the ability to use propaganda in cinema, and in general, it's overall appeal to growing cities.