August 31, 1897: Edison patents the Kinetoscope, laying the groundwork for film
If movies are a religion, Thomas Edison is God. He gave the first public demonstration of the Kinetoscope, the first motion picture camera, in 1893. Four years later, he patented it. The technology quickly spread around the globe. The world has never been the same since.
Great innovators borrow and steal
Before there was the Kinestecope, there was the photographic pioneer, Eadweard Muebridge. In 1877, he developed a primitive form of a motion picture to study horses in motion. Muebridge set up 24 cameras attached to trip wires. As the horse ran by, the cameras were triggered.
When the pictures were rapidly displayed in sequence, the horse appeared to run like the dickens. In February 1888, Muebridge gave a demonstration of his zoopraxiscope just blocks from Edison’s New Jersey facility. Rumor has it that Edison and his company’s photographer were in attendance.
Building the beast
In March of 1889, Edison filed a preliminary claim with the US Patent Office for a device called the Kinetoscope. Edison assigned William Dickson, one of his most talented employees, to bring the world’s first motion picture camera into reality.
Edison’s Kinetoscope used celluloid film. In November 1890, Edison made the first official motion picture ever produced in the United States. Monkeyshines, No. 1 is about a lab employee with incredible coordination.
The first movie theatre
In 1893, Edison built a small movie studio to display his films. The entire theater could be rotated so that they could capture the best sunlight. In 1893, Edison debuted a movie of his workers pretending to be blacksmiths. Edison patented his invention on Friday, August 31st, 1897. Several other inventors quickly followed suit.
French inventors Louis and August Lumiere developed a movie camera and projector called the Cinematographe. Edison sued for patent infringements but lost his case. If Edison couldn’t dominate the industry, he was out. The Edison Manufacturing company abandoned the movie business entirely in 1917.