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1891 - The motion picture camera is invented (Thomas Alva Edison, William K.L. Dickson, United States)



LIGHT AND SOUND UNITED
EDISON OUTDOES HIMSELF IN THE KINETOGRAPH.
It is to Reproduce a Picture of What Passes Before the Mechanical Eye - With the Phonograph the Invention Will Serve to Take the Opera Into the Parlor - A Rapid-Transit Road Under Broadway - General New York News.
NEW YORK, May 27. - (Special.) - From the laboratory of the Wizard of Menlo Park there is coming an invention which out-Edisons Edison. It is the marriage of the phonograph to the camera - the union in one instrument of sound and sight. With it the opera can be carried into the parlor and the artists cannot only be heard but can also be seen. The popular preacher, the eminent public speaker, with it all can be brought to the home.

The new wonder will be called the "kinetograph," a strange sounding title to the ear today, but destined perhaps soon to become as familiar as locomotive or telephone, both strange words in their infancy. Mr. Edison has been at work on this newest conception of his genius for three years. Now he knows that its base principle is right; all that remains to be done is to perfect the details.

The new invention is a combination machine in which the phonograph and photographic camera work together. It will produce not only sound, but also a picture of what passes before it. Not a mere instantaneous impression of objects, but a continuous representation of them for a considerable space of time.

Mr. Edison claims it will reproduce an opera. The phonograph will render the music and the photographic apparatus will reproduce the performers so that their presence on the stage will be depicted, every muscle of their faces will be seen to work, their strides, movements, all will be true to nature. In other words, the camera will give a continuous picture of a singer on the stage for say, thirty minutes, all his motions and gestures, while its ally, the phonograph, will record every note he utters. To produce this result it was necessary for the inventor to be able to take a series of instantaneous photographs following each other in such quick succession that no lapse of time can be detected between the impressions recorded, and the series of pictures become in effect but one continuous picture. And this Mr. Edison has succeeded in doing. Operated by an electric motor, his camera will take forty-six impressions in each second of time, and in this way the impressions are recorded so rapidly that the motions become resolved into pure motion instead of a series of jerks. The impressions are recorded on a long roll of gelatine paper fastened into a spindle, which passes over a photographic lens.

This is how Mr. Edison himself describes the wonder: "The machine starts, moves, uncloses, stops, takes a photograph, closes, starts, uncloses, stops, takes another, and so on, and forty-six of these are recorded every second."

And this process can be kept up for thirty minutes without a pause. So 2,760 photographs can be taken each minute and 82,800 every half-hour. Thus the full representation of, say, an opera, the movement on the stage and music, can be recorded by this novel machine.

Mr. Edison has not yet perfected the machine at work. He does not expect to have a perfect one for some time yet. He has an experimental one rigged up in his workshop, covered by a wooden box. It is a regular photographic machine impelled by an electric motor. In the top of the box was a hole about the size of a silver dollar. The machine was started as THE TRIBUNE correspondent looked through the orifice. What he saw was the form of a man about an inch in size bowing and raising his hat. The motions were natural and continuous and no break could be detected between them. The picture seen was only a negative, photographed on an endless slip. At the greatest rate of speed no gaps could be noticed between the bows. They came along smoothly and naturally. But when the speed was decreased to twenty and thirty pictures per second the difference was at once noticeable. The motion became jerky and irregular.

It can be applied to the ring, and a whole prizefight or sparring exhibition with the motion, blows, and talk can be reproduced before an audience. The wizard says it is very simple. "I wrote an article some years ago," said he, "hinting at this very invention. The papers made fun of me - sad I had better stop talking. This made me made, and I determined to carry the conception to a successful issue. I felt confident that I could do it. The only trouble about it was to take the impressions fast enough so as to secure pure motion. This I have done. I intend to have it ready and in practical working shape for the Chicago Exposition. Do I expect to make money out of it? Well, I have never thought of that. I have worked it out for amusement; it has been a pet hobby of mine."

And the greatest inventor of his age looked quite content with the result of his labor.

 
Chicago Daily Tribune
Chicago, Illinois
May 28, 1891


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