Kinetoscopes, Kinetophones, and Those "Wicked Phonographs"

SFSFF blog post by Christine U'Ren

The Kinetoscope machines at Bacigalupi's San Francisco arcade in 1895, in the Baldwin building.

Just in time for George Willeman's upcoming SFSFF 2017 Amazing Tales from the Archives presentation on Edison Kinetophones, Christine U'Ren has contributed a multi-part series on the earliest movies. This is part one.

Does it seem like a new phenomenon that people are watching films on individual, tiny screens rather than in movie houses? In fact, the very first publicly available "movies"—if defined as series of photographic images that can be played in sequence to show motion—were not projected, but only viewable through Thomas Edison's Kinetoscopes, personal peep shows designed for individual use. The machines were first retailed in April 1894, and in less than a year could be found in major cities throughout the U.S., as well as Paris and London.

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