Kinetoscope – First Cinema Experience: By the late 19th century, the idea of moving images was not a novel one. Devices such as magic lanterns and phenakistoscopes, which consisted of a spinning cardboard disc with images viewed through a mirror, had already gained popularity. However, Thomas A. Edison had something else in mind. He introduced the kinetoscope, which marked the birth of the first cinema experience.
The Kinetoscope: Thomas Edison’s Groundbreaking Invention
In 1893, Thomas A. Edison developed the Kinetoscope, a device that used celluloid film invented by H.W. Goodwin. The Kinetoscope was designed for viewing films by a single person at a time, through a peephole viewer window located at the top of the device. While it was not a film projector, the Kinetoscope established the basic principles that would eventually become the standard for all motion picture projection.
The Kinetoscope operated by passing a strip of film quickly between a lens and an electric light, while the viewer looked through a peephole. A turning wheel with a restricted cut served as a shade, allowing a transient perspective of 46 frames per second. This resulted in a depiction of people and objects in motion.
Watch Kinetoscopic recording of Fred Ott sneezing, 1894
There has been debate regarding Edison’s contribution to the invention of the motion picture camera. Some rumors suggest that Edison’s assistant, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, was assigned to create the device in June 1889, with Charles Brown as his assistant. While Edison appears to have conceived the idea and initiated the experiments, Dickson reportedly played a leading role in the experimentation and is credited with turning the idea into a reality.
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