Monday, December 29, 2008

December 28:

1895 : First commercial movie screened

On this day in 1895, the world's first commercial movie
screening takes place at the Grand Cafe in Paris. The
film was made by Louis and Auguste Lumiere, two
French brothers who developed a camera-projector
called the Cinematographe. The Lumiere brothers
unveiled their invention to the public in March 1895 with
a brief film showing workers leaving the Lumiere factory.
On December 28, the entrepreneurial siblings screened
a series of short scenes from everyday French life and
charged admission for the first time.

Movie technology has its roots in the early 1830s, when
Joseph Plateau of Belgium and Simon Stampfer of
Austria simultaneously developed a device called the phenakistoscope,
which incorporated a spinning disc with
slots through which a series of drawings could be viewed,
creating the effect of a single moving image. The
phenakistoscope, considered the precursor of modern
motion pictures, was followed by decades of advances
and in 1890, Thomas Edison and his assistant William
Dickson developed the first motion-picture camera, called
the Kinetograph. The next year, 1891, Edison invented
the Kinetoscope, a machine with a peephole viewer that
allowed one person to watch a strip of film as it moved
past a light.

In 1894, Antoine Lumiere, the father of Auguste (1862-1954)
and Louis (1864-1948), saw a demonstration of Edison's Kinetoscope.
The elder Lumiere was impressed, but reportedly told his
sons, who ran a successful photographic
plate factory in Lyon, France, that they could come up with
something better. Louis Lumiere's Cinematographe, which
was patented in 1895, was a combination movie camera
and projector that could display moving images on a screen
for an audience. The Cinematographe was also smaller,
lighter and used less film than Edison's technology.

The Lumieres opened theaters (known as cinemas) in 1896
to show their work and sent crews of cameramen around the
world to screen films and shoot new material. In America, the
film industry quickly took off. In 1896, Vitascope Hall, believed
to be the first theater in the U.S. devoted to showing movies,
opened in New Orleans. In 1909, The New York Times
published its first film review (of D.W. Griffith's "Pippa Passes"),
in 1911 the first Hollywood film studio opened and in 1914,
Charlie Chaplin made his big-screen debut.

In addition to the Cinematographe, the Lumieres also
developed the first practical color photography process,
the Autochrome plate, which debuted in 1907.


General Interest
1895 : First commercial movie screened
1832 : Calhoun resigns vice presidency
1869 : America's first Labor Day
1908 : Worst European earthquake
1989 : Dubcek returns to public office

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