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Timeline 1890-1950

Early 1890s

- Thomas Edison and W.K.L. Dickson devise an early prototypical sound-film system called the Kinetophonograph or Kinetophone (1) - a precursor of the 1891 Kinetoscope.


- William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, Thomas Edison’s assistant, built the first modern motion-picture camera called the Kinetograph.


- Thomas Edison receives patent for wireless telegraphy.
- Thomas Hardy’s Novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles is published.
- Edison and Dickson develop the Kinetoscope (2).


- Nut-Cracker ballet is first performed.
- Dickson and Edison built a vertical-feed motion picture camera (3).


- Edison constructs the world's first motion picture studio in West Orange, New Jersey (4).


- Guglielmo Marconi, an early pioneer of radio sends and received wireless signals in Italy.
- The earliest color hand-tinted films are produced.
- In France, brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière invent the Cinématographe (5).


- The world's first permanent movie theatre designed as a venue for showing motion pictures opens in Buffalo, New York.


- George Albert Smith releases single scene short “Santa Claus”(6).


- French magician, Georges Melies, becomes film industry's first film-maker to use artificially-arranged scenes to construct and tell a narrative story, with his most popular and influential film to date, Cendrillon (7).

Early 1900s

- Lee Deforest coins the term “radio” (8).


- The Eastman Kodak Company first introduces the Brownie camera (9).
- Thomas Edison's "Black Maria" film studio closes. Edison builds a new movie studio in New York City.
- The nation's first indoor, glass-enclosed studio that could be used year-round.


- Silent movie Scrooge or Marley’s Ghost is released.
- Queen Victoria Dies at age 82.
- First Transatlantic signals sent from England to Newfoundland by Marconi (10).


- First advent calendars sold.
- French engineer, Leon Gaumont, demonstrated his sound-on-disk Chronophone system to the French Photographic Society.


- Hollywood was officially incorporated as a municipality.
- Joseph Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness is published.


- Georges Méliès releases the first two-reel film, The Impossible Voyage (11).


- Reginald Fessenden broadcasts Christmas Eve concert from Brant Rock, MA. Broadcasted as far away as the West Indies.

- The world's first true feature-length film (About 70 minutes in length) The Story of the Kelly Gang, is shown in Australia (12).


- Film version of A Christmas Carol directed by J Searle Dawley is released.


- Leon Gaumont devises the process of panchromatic film (13).


- Silent film Scrooge is released, starring Seymour Hicks.
- This version has Marley stand in for all three ghosts.


- Austral-Hungary declares War on Serbia, World War I begins.
- WWI Halts European motion-picture production (14).

Mid 1910s

- Dadaist Movement begins in Germany (15).


- The first demonstration of a 3D film was in 1915 at the Astor Theatre in New York City (16).


- Amateur Radio Broadcasting privileges suspended due to war.


- Armistice is signed by Allies and Germany, World War I ends.
- First clear transmission of human speech.


- Most of the major Hollywood motion-picture studios had been established, including Warner Brothers, Fox (later 20th Century Fox), RKO, Loew's Inc. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Paramount , as well as United Artists, Universal, and Columbia.


- Women get the right to vote in the US.
- First candy canes sold in stores.
- Detroit new station 8MK becomes first radio station to have regularly scheduled programming.


- 5 radio stations are licensed and in operation.
- D.W. Griffith's film Dream Street is the first feature film to use sound.


- James Joyce’s novel Ulysses is published.


- First radio broadcast of The World Series.
- The Hollywood sign built.
- A Christmas Carol silent film is released starring Russell Thorndike.
- Omits a considerable portion of the original story.


- Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway and Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises are published.
-The first in-flight movie was shown (17).

Late 1920s

- Ezra Pound declares, “Make it New” (18).


- A newer and better recording system for putting synchronized sound-on-film called Movietone developed (19).


- Warner Brother’s The Jazz Singer is the first widely-screened feature-length talkie or movie with dialogue.
- The average cost of a movie ticket is 25 cents.


- NBC establishes first continuous coast to coast radio network.
- The first 'Mickey Mouse' short animated film, Plane Crazy, was debuted.


- Stock Market crashes marking the beginning economic woe leading to The Great Depression.
- William Faulkner’s novel The Sound and the Fury is published.
- Walt Disney Productions is formed.
- The first Academy Awards are handed out (20).
- Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail is released (21).
- USC is the first university in the country to offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in film.


- Kids begin leaving milk and cookies for Santa.
- Coca-Cola completes Santa’s image, introducing his red suit.
- Vinyl Discs or “Records” invented for storing sound.


- Thomas A. Edison dies at the age of 84.


- FM radio patented by Edwin H. Armstrong.
- The first drive-in movie theater opens in New Jersey.
- First of FDR’s “Fireside Chats” aired (22).


- A Christmas Carol, starring Lionel Barrymore as Scrooge airs (23).
- Adolf Hitler is elected Fuhrer.
- Color movies begin to be more widely shown.


- The British-made Scrooge, opens (24).


- The first full-length animated feature, Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, is released (25).


- A Christmas Carol starring Reginald Owen as Scrooge and directed by Edwin L. Marin is released.
- Chester Carlson invents Xerox.
- War of the Worlds is first broadcast via radio to widespread panic (26).


- Germany Invade Poland, World War II Begins.
- Rudolf is created, completing Santa’s nine reindeer.
- First TVs sold.
- James Joyce’s novel Finnegan’s Wake and John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath are published.


- Three record set of A Christmas Carol, starring Basil Rathbone as Scrooge is available.
- First Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd Cartoon.


- Japan bombs Pearl Harbour.


- Nazis in occupied France ban English-language films.


- The Hollywood Canteen founded (27).


- D-Day marks end of World War II.
- The first Golden Globe Awards (28).


- FCC moves FM frequencies to the upper part of the spectrum to make room for TV, marking a decline in Radio Broadcasting(29).


- George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm is published.


- Electronic microphone invented.


- Creation of NATO (30).
- The first appearance of both the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.
- A TV special version of A Christmas Carol narrated by Vincent Price


- First non-green, artificial trees sold.
- Hollywood begins to develop ways to counteract free television's gains by increasing the use of color in films, and by introducing wide-screen films (i.e., CinemaScope, Techniscope, Cinerama, VistaVision, etc.) and gimmicks (i.e., 3-D viewing with cardboard glasses, Smell-O-Vision, etc.).


(1) The Kinetophone provided unsynconized sound and had a projector connected to the phonograph with a pulley system.

(2) A Kinetiscope was the first recognizable motion picture machine. The first public demonstration of motion pictures in the US using the Kinetoscope occurred on May 20, 1891.

(3) The camera used a film strip that was 1 1/2 inches wide. This established the basis for today's standard 35 mm commercial film gauge, which became accepted as the international standard gauge in 1909.

(4) It was a Kinetograph production center nicknamed the Black Maria, a small wood-framed building covered in tar paper. Many major performers would soon star in Edison films made at the Black Maria.

(5) The Cinematograph was a combination hand-held movie camera and projector. The Lumiere’s was the first advanced projector and was the first to be offered for sale.

(6) One of the earliest known instances of parallel action without cross-cutting and has been noted as featuring the first opening title screen with lettering. It also contained a number of visual effects such as stop-motion jump-cuts, super-imposition multiple exposures, and iris-masking of the camera lens to produce a scene-within-a-scene in a circular vignette.

(7) Melies developed film techniques, including stop-motion photography, double and multiple-exposures, time-lapse photography, "special effects" such as disappearing objects and dissolves/fades.

(8) Lee Deforest was an American inventor and central to the development of early radio.

(9) The Brownie Camera was a simplistic cardboard box camera that used roll film. Its original list price was $1.00.

(10) Gaumont's device was a sound system that used phonograph cylinders, to allow synchronized sound while viewing films.

(11) The film ran about 20 minutes in length, it was about four or five times longer than the average film at the time.

(12) The movie was accompanied by an orchestra, sound effects and a narrator.

(13) Panchromatic film was a type of black and white film sensitive to light of all colors (including red), thereby making the picture more realistic.

(14) This cause European cinema to lose its dominance in the movie industry. The American motion-picture industry thrived on business and viewership in the European market.

(15) Dadaist movement was a major literary movement beginning as a result of the ravages of war.

(16) Red and green glasses were required to view test reels of 3D footage.

(17) The move was shown in a WWI converted Handley-Page bomber during a 30-minute flight from London to Paris in April for Imperial Airways.

(18) “Make it New”, Poet Ezra Pound’s mantra becoming a mandate for the Modernist movement to create art that is original and new.

(19) With the Movietone system, the sound track is placed onto the actual film next to the picture frames, rather than on a separate synchronized disc.

(20) They are announced on the back page of the organization's bulletin three months before being officially awarded at the first Academy Awards ceremony.

(21) It is his first sound film and the UK's first full-length talking picture.

(22) FDR is Franklin D. Roosevelt, former president of the united states. He held “Fireside Chat’s to address the nation via radio.

(23) This starts a Christmas tradition of a radio dramatization of the novel being aired on various networks until 1953.

(24) It is the first all-talking feature film version of the Charles Dickens classic).

(25) The first film with an official soundtrack, and the first film to release a motion picture soundtrack album.

(26) When War of the Worlds is first aired many people tuned in to the broadcast and, thinking it to be real, believed that aliens were invading.

(27) The Hollywood Canteen was founded by Bette Davis, John Garfield, and others on Hollywood to provide free entertainment (food, dancing, etc.) to servicemen by those in the industry. It operated for just over three years as a morale booster, during the war years, and was the impetus for the Warners' film Hollywood Canteen (1944), featuring lots of stars in cameo roles.

(28) They took place at 20th Century Fox Studios. The first ceremonies awarded scrolls rather than trophies to winners.

(29) FCC (Federal Communications Commission) regulates media broadcasting in United States.

(30) NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) – is an intergovernmentary alliance between 28 countries across North America and Europe.


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