Birth of the Movies

Scientific Experiments 1867-93


  1. Etienne-Jules Marey in France after 1867
    • Marey was influenced by Nadar's 1865 revolving portraits
    • Marey used a phenakistoscope motion wheel - graphing of man walking, rubber bulbs on horse hoofs
    • Marey's photographic animations of 1882
  2. Eadweard Muybridge in U.S. 1872
    • 12-camera horse sequence for Leland Stanford
    • proved theory of unsupported transit 1877
    • zoopraxiscope 24-image projector 1879
  3. Pierre Janssen revolver in France 1873
    • revolver camera to record transit of Venus
    • Marey's improved gun camera made chronophotos 1882
    • Marey's paper-base strip film camera 1888
  4. George Eastman's celluloid film
    • Hannibal Goodwin's 1887 patent
    • Eastman's 1889 rollfilm - Kodak Co.

Kinetoscope 1893-95

Black Maria studio at Edison NHS
made publicity and boxing films
  1. Thomas Edison in West Orange, NJ
    • met Muybridge Feb. 25, 1888
    • told W.K.L. Dickson to design camera
    • patent caveat Oct. 1888
    • met Marey Aug. 19, 1889
    • 1891 patent; 1893 demo
    • 35mm film, sprocket, intermittent shutter
    • Black Maria studio built 1893 around 500-lb. Kinetograph camera
    • Edison: The Invention of the Movies from Kino
  2. Andrew Holland opened 1st peep-show parlor on Broadway April 1894, with Kinetoscopes for individual viewers
    • 25 cents for 16-second film viewed individually, at 40 fps by electrical motor
  3. W.K.L. Dickson's flip-card Mutoscope 1895
  4. Alfred Clark's 1895 film The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots

Vaudeville Theaters 1895-1905

ad from Edison NHS
  1. Louis and Auguste Lumiere in Paris Dec. 28, 1895
    • 16 lb. hand-cranked Cinematographe camera & projector
    • lamp, lens, crank, screen system used at Grand Cafe in Paris on Dec. 28, 1895, to show short films recorded at silent film speed of 16 fps on 35mm film with one sprocket hole per frame. Lumiere Institute has digitized films from the first public film show.
    • 1st in U.S. at Keith's Union Square theater
  2. Thomas Armat & C. Francis Jenkins in Atlanta 1895
    • Vitascope projector using Latham loop and reels
    • Raff & Gammon exhibition April 23, 1896, in New York's Koster & Bial Music Hall
    • Edison purchased rights to the Vitascope 1896
  3. W.K.L. Dickson's Biograph projector Oct. 1896
  4. J. Stuart Blackton and Albert Smith's Vitagraph 1897
  5. Sigmund Lubin's Cineograph projector in Phila. 1897
  6. George Melies - Theatre Robert-Houdin opened as the 1st public movie theater Apr. 1896
    • 1897 studio in Paris - made 500 films by 1913
    • 1902 A Trip to the Moon
  7. Thomas Tally 1902 LA theater- wholesome films for 10 cents

The 300 vaudeville theaters offered a variety of entertainment for 50 cents, highly stylized, artificial, ritualistic with recognized and repetitive actions expected by the audience. But movies were different, more visual, surprising, praised for "pictorial realism" and better for melodrama (sentiment, passion, emotion) than for traditional stage drama (rules of cause and effect).

Nickelodeon 1905-15

Bijou Dream Nickelodeon,
(from Bowers) - see interior of Hannibal MO Rex 1912, and Iowa nickelodeon (from Bowser)

The Princess Nicotine was an early special effect film made by J. Stuart Blackton and his Vitagraph studio in Brooklyn; according to Scientific American in 1909: ""The effect of The Princess Nicotine when thrown upon the screen is so startling that it defies explanation by the uninitiated.The little fairy moves so realistically that she cannot be explained away by assuming that she is a doll, and yet it is impossible to understand how she can be a living being, because of her small stature."

Independents 1909-1919

Kleine poster 1913, from LC

The huge New York Hippodrome was built in 1905 by John Gates at a cost of $4 million, with 5200 seats to attract the large middle class audience. Thomas Lamb was one of the first movie palace architects who designed the Regent in 1914, the Strand in 1914, the Rialto in 1916, the Rivoli in 1917, and the Capitol in 1919, and became the main architect for the Loew chain. Samuel "Roxy" Rothapfel was a pioneer of the movie palace in New York, opening the Strand in 1914. His great Roxy Theater in 1927 seated 6215 and became the flagship theater for William Fox.

Rise of the Classical Hollywood Narrative 1915-1925

L. M. Glackens in Puck, 11/9/1910, from LC

Hollywood's Golden Age 1930-1945

Hollywood's Postwar Crisis 1945-1960

Hollywood's Revival



revised 4/1/07 by Steven Schoenherr | Filmnotes | Reserve list