Talkie movies increased fun but also increased the utility of movies by enabling the transmission of news with pictures. Newsreels, that started out as shorts played before movies, evolved into the most effective communication method in history.
Tigerstedt created the first documented movie sound technology, in 1914. However, his technology was not commercialized. Lee de Forest (the same man who created the Audion tube – see FM) went to Europe to work with the German’s Josef Engl, Hans Vogt, and Joseph Massolle of Tri-Ergon.
de Forest tried creating a US sound on film company in cooperation with Tri-Ergon, called De Forest Phonofilm Company, but it never succeeded and eventually went bankrupt. de Forest did manage a sound film festival of short movies on Apr. 15, 1923.
Freeman Owens and Theodore Case also worked with de Forest but found him obnoxious and, eventually, licensed their technology to Fox Film Corporation where it became dominant. Due to the split, IP nobody made substantial revenue from sound films.
In 1878, Muybridge famously created high-speed moving photos, calling his machine a Zoopraxiscope. His photos illustrated how people and animals move. Eventually, Walt Disney and other animators and artists later famously used the strips to create more realistic animations.
Eventually Edison’s Kinetoscope, publicly demonstrated in 1891, was a primitive device that showed moving pictures to one person at a time. Initially, Edison did not view his Kinetoscope as a substantive invention; it was a novelty for use in carnivals.
Subsequently, the Lumiere brothers of France, built off Edison’s work to create the first genuine movie camera and projector. They patented their movie equipment, which used perforated film Feb. 13, 1895.
The brothers showed the first movies on Dec. 28, 1885, at the Salon Indien du Grand Café in Paris, projecting ten films. Despite their success, the Lumiere’s refused to sell their movie equipment to others, making commercialization impossible. Later, they would create an early color film company, and had a family film company that was already doing well, so they prospered financially, just not from movies.
The Lumiere’s built upon Edison’s work because Edison failed to register European patents, believing his innovation to be impractical. Therefore, Many consider the Lumiere’s the true inventors of movies since multiple people could watch at the same time. Eventually, Edison did improve his movie camera and projector and built it into a successful business.
Kodak’s original camera contained plates. Later versions contained one-hundred exposures; customers would take their pictures, mail in their camera, and the company mailed back developed pictures and a refilled camera.
Roll film changed all that, vastly lowering the cost and complexity of photography and eventually enabling the creation of movie film. Ordinary people could purchase and load film then remove it for processing, a process that did not change significantly for more than a century.
Roll film and roll film cameras were invited by Scottish immigrant brothers Peter & David Houston of North Dakota. In 1881 they patented their innovation.
George Eastman approached Houston who sold him the rights to the patent and rights to the film for $5,000 in 1889. Legend has it that Houston wanted to have his own company merged with Eastman’s and considered the name Nodak, for North Dakota. Eastman thought the name unusual and changed the “D” to a “K” naming it Kodak.
Inflation calculators from that early are wildly inaccurate. To contextualize, a blacksmith — considered a highly skilled occupation — earned $15.54 per 60-hour week in 1880. Little data exists for North Dakota but, in Iowa, houses cost about $300-$500.
The brothers OK from their innovation and another 21 patents Houston licensed to Eastman. He purchased a 4,000-acre farm that, today, remains a tourist attraction in Bonanzaville, West Fargo, North Dakota.