The History of Film
Part 1 - Humble Beginnings



Top: Thomas Edison.
Bottom: Early film viewing device called the Kinetoscope.


This article is part of a feature of four articles detailing 120 years of cinematic history.

Film, or Moving Pictures, had very humble beginnings. Although in this day and age you wouldn't know it. Film, Cinema, Motion Pictures, whatever title you give it, it is one of the most important communication and entertainment tools of today's society, influencing all walks of life.

How did something so influential begin... Louis Le Prince's 1888 two second film, Roundhay Garden Scene, is the oldest surviving motion picture. Edison Laboratories is soon after credited with the invention of an early form of celluloid strips, the basis of photographing and projecting moving images. At the 1893 Chicago World Fair Thomas Edison introduced to the public the Kinetograph and Kinetoscope. The former being the first practical motion picture camera, and the latter being a means of viewing the created motion picture. However Edison dismissed the idea of larger audiences viewing a motion picture simultaneously, perhaps thinking it was more an individual experience?

The first public viewing of films is credited to French photographer Jean Aimé Le Roy, who on February 5th, 1894 presented his cinematograph. Across the Atlantic British inventor Robert W. Paul also siezed upon the idea of creating a way where numerous people could view the motion picture at the same time, inventing a film projector in 1895. Another early invention was in 1895 in France, where Auguste and Louis Lumière invented their own cinematograph. The Lumière's device not only filmed the motion picture, but also printed and projected it.

The earliest motion pictures were often a minute or less in length and often of a slapstick or vaudeville type nature, or sometimes showed a sporting or public event. Besides the short length they were very simple in nature; usually consisting of one static camera showing a single scene with no editing.

Look for the continuation of this article, with part 2 discussing the first 30 years of film, most commonly called; The Silent Era.

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