Godfather of Industry

The Story of a Great American

Thomas Edison's Early Days

Young Tom's First Laboratory

A Telegrapher at Seventeen

Edison's Hectic Years

Edison Aids Marconi

Edison's Favorite The Phonograph

Lawyer Steals Edison Patents

The Edison Lamp

The "Edison Effect"

The West Orange Laboratory

The Motion Picture Camera

Edison and the War

Honors Come to Edison



A Brief Biography of Thomas Alva Edison

The Motion Picture Camera

     Two things led Edison to the invention of the motion picture camera: His idea that motion could be captured by having one camera that would take repeated pictures at high speed, and a new celluloid film developed by George Eastman for use in still photography that proved adaptable to Edison's proposed camera.

     To Edison's mind, motion pictures would do for the eye what the phonograph did for the ear. Thus, we find that on Oct. 6, 1889, when they first projected an experimental motion picture in his laboratory, he gave birth to sound pictures as well. The first movie actually was a "talkie." The picture was accompanied by synchronized sound from a phonograph record.

     He applied for a patent on the motion picture camera on July 31, 1891. The first commercial showing of motion pictures occurred three years later, April 14, 1894, with the opening of a "peephole" Kinetoscope parlor at 1155 Broadway, New York City.

     Several men developed machines for projecting motion pictures. The best such projector, to Edison's mind, was one built by Thomas Armat. Edison acquired rights to Armat's crude machine and then perfected it in his West Orange laboratory.

     Commercial projection of motion pictures as we know it today began on April 23, 1896, at Koster and Bial's Music Hall, New York City, where the Edison Vitascope, embodying the basic principles of Armat's invention with improvements by Edison, was used.

     The vitascope was Edison's name for the motion picture projector. When he added sound, he called it the kinetophone, which he introduced commercially in 1913, or 13 years before Hollywood adopted that means of improving motion picture entertainment.

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