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The Kinetoscope

The Kinetoscope was a motion picture projector invented in 1888

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The Kinetoscope

Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope Open - Film was threaded on rollers as a continuous ribbon.

The concept of moving images as entertainment was not a new one by the latter part of the 19th century. Magic lanterns and other devices had been employed in popular entertainment for generations. Magic lanterns used glass slides with images which were projected. The use of levers and other contrivances made these images "move".

Another mechanism called a Phenakistiscope consisted of a disc with images of successive phases of movement on it which could be spun to simulate movement.

Zoopraxiscope - Edison and Eadweard Muybridge

Additionally, there was the Zoopraxiscope, developed by photographer Eadweard Muybridge in 1879, which projected a series of images in successive phases of movement. These images were obtained through the use of multiple cameras. The invention of a camera in the Edison laboratories capable of recording successive images in a single camera was a more practical, cost-effective breakthrough that influenced all subsequent motion picture devices.

While there has been speculation that Edison's interest in motion pictures began before 1888, the visit of Eadweard Muybridge to the inventor's laboratory in West Orange in February of that year certainly stimulated Edison's resolve to invent a motion picture camera. Muybridge proposed that they collaborate and combine the Zoopraxiscope with the Edison phonograph. Although apparently intrigued, Edison decided not to participate in such a partnership, perhaps realizing that the Zoopraxiscope was not a very practical or efficient way of recording motion.

Patent Caveat for the Kinetoscope

In an attempt to protect his future inventions, Edison filed a caveat with the Patents Office on October 17, 1888, describing his ideas for a device which would "do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear" record and reproduce objects in motion. Edison called the invention a Kinetoscope, using the Greek words "kineto" meaning "movement" and "scopos" meaning "to watch." {h3]Kinetoscope - Who Did The Inventing? Edison's assistant, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, was given the task of inventing the device in June 1889, possibly because of his background as a photographer. Charles Brown was made Dickson's assistant. There has been some argument about how much Edison himself contributed to the invention of the motion picture camera. While Edison seems to have conceived the idea and initiated the experiments, Dickson apparently performed the bulk of the experimentation, leading most modern scholars to assign Dickson with the major credit for turning the concept into a practical reality.

The Edison laboratory, though, worked as a collaborative organization. Laboratory assistants were assigned to work on many projects while Edison supervised and involved himself and participated to varying degrees. Ultimately, Edison made the important decisions, and, as the "Wizard of West Orange," took sole credit for the products of his laboratory.

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