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of the primitive camera was first documented in the renaissance period (around 1400 A.D.) by artist Leonardo Da Vinci, although man had probably been aware of how light filtering in through a small hole or crack projected an image along the floors and walls, showing a crude image of the brightly sunlighted world outside. The first "shadows on the wall."

With the invention of the movable type printing press in the 15th century by Gutenburg, newspapers and book publishing began to flourish and reach the masses instead of the few elite, affluent patrons who could afford the earliest hand written books. Thus began the era of modern "mass communications."

The next great advance was the perfection of photography in the early to mid 1800's. Which, along with Dr. Roget's "Theory of the Persistance of Vision" -- the concept the brain freezes a view the eye sees and melds it with the next view. This intellectual concept was the subject of many scientific experiments and demonstration toys that would eventually give birth to the concept of motion pictures and televsion by establishing that a series of still images moving before the eye seem to "move" like real life actions.

Radio was invented by Macronni in the latter part of the 19th century, largely as the so-called "crystal" radio, a low powered device used primarily to transmit bleeps (called "Morse code") because the ability to capture and transmit voice and music was not yet practical.

Somewhere in this same time frame Alexander Graham Bell would perfect the telephone, a means of sending voices over a length of wire using a small electric current. The concept of sending voices over the airwave (or as they called it back then, throught the "Ether") would quickly follow.

Thomas Edison came up with the concept of saving the sounds of voice and music onto a permanent storage medium, inventing the device eventually dubbed the "phonograph" around 1892 (and this would eventually give birth to the Compact Disc in the 1980's). Edison intended this device to be used in conjunction with another gismo, his motion picture camera. Edison and his associates (Edwin S. Porter, among others), in fact, created the "music video" and the concept of "un-plugged" – basically because there was no electronic amplification. By 1897 he was photographing singers and musicians playing live in his "Black Maria" studio located in New York.

The first motions pictures projected before a "theater" audience was made by the Lumiere brothers in 1895 with the first publicly demonstrated documentary films of workers leaving their bicycle plant near Paris, France.

But it was more than likely Alice Guy who made the first fictionaly story film ("The Cabbage Fairy") and maybe even the "trick" or special effects film just a few months after the Lumiere exhbition (though some historians dispute this fact and feel Georges Melies, a noted magician, made the first "trick films" in that same year in the same location, Paris France).

Edwin S. Porter created the initial grammar of motion pictures or television, by shooting things out of sequence. (Such as doing the ending first, which is done for reasons of economy and speed, grouping like scenes together for filmimg at the same time) And giving us close-ups, far shots and also probably invented the first "western" movie with a complete plot – "The Great Train Robbery" made around 1902 although some credit D.W. Griffith with much of cinema grammar, which he did improved and expand between 1911 and 1919.

Germaine Dulac made some of the first experimental or "avant garde" films ("The Smiling Madame Beaduet" and "The Seashell and the Clergyman") around 1915.

Also around this point in time, Lee De Forest invented the audio tube, making radio, television, the phonograph, sound movies and computers eventually possible. He also invented the first sound on film process around 1921. (While, we have already seen, Edison, Porter and Guy were making a flock of sound films between 1897 and 1907. The De Forest invention made it practical for the audience to "hear" the sound clearly, as the audio tube (or "valve," as the English call them) made amplfication possible). In fact, the invention of the "triode" or audio tube by De Forest is probably one of the most significant inventions of this century as far has consumer technology is conerned, but this man is little known outside of scientific circles.

The oldest existing animated feature film, "The Adventures of Prince Achmed" was made in Germany by Lotte Reinger between 1923 and 1925 (employing special techniques historians would wrongly attribute to Walt Disney many years later, such as the multi-plane animation stand).

Warner Brothers released the "Jazz Singer" in 1929 and many people wrongly attributes this to be the first sound film. Actually Fox was making sound newsreels using their own sound-on-film process at least a whole year before this film was released and Edison made them as early as 1896!

Color film was in use, in one form or another, since 1910, but Technicolor perfected it in the 1930s using three strips of black and white film with color filters, then printing this onto clear film using dyes. A process that was replaced by Eastman Kodak’s single color film stock in the early 1950's -- which is basically the same film we use today in a somewhat updated version.

The concept of television and color television actually dates back to crude demonstrations in the 19th century, while the TV picture tube (or CRT -- Cathode Ray Tube) was invented around 1910. The first real television cable-cast wasn’t, however, until around 1929. Actual broadcast of TV didn’t begin until after World War II.

With the advent of television motion picture theaters suffered a drastic loss of audience. To draw people into the theaters "wide screen" and "3-D" processes were introduced. Fox was one of the first to make wide screen movies ("The Robe" being the first film shot in their ‘CinemaScope’ process), but this concept lost momentum in the late 1970s. Today few films are shot in this type of wide, wide screen process.

Musician, performer, writer Steve Allen helped finance the experimental concepts of video tape in the mid-1950s and around this same time NBC began broadcasting in the currently used color television system. Around 1968 television went totally color.

Around 1965 FM Stereo radio began seeing a big upswing in the United States. It would take Canada and other foreign countries a while to catch on with the higher music quality FM broadcasting. By 1990 older AM radio was relgated to talk shows and low fidelity "oldies" music.

The Altair personal computer was introduced in the 1970s. It was quickly followed by offerings from Atari, Commodore and Radio Shack, starting the PC revolution. The prelimintary concepts of the Internet were also proposed in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the early 1990s that companies like CompuServe, America Online and Prodigy began offering the "web" to everyone at low cost.

The CD and Laser Disks were first developed around 1978, which is roughly the same time Sony's Betamax video was introduced. VHS video followed shortly thereafter offering more recording time even though the quality wasn't as good as the Sony process. Betamax, however, eventually became obsolete by 1985, lartely due to the delay of longer recording time in this process, thus given VHS an edge with the mass audience.

High definition and digital television began to see limited use in Japan during the late 1980s, but their introduction in the U.S. didn’t come until the end of the 20th century. DVD was also in experimental use and is now starting to see wide use in the world, destined to replace both CD for music and VHS tape for video during the next few years. You will soon see "home" DVD making machines (which are already here, but quite expensive) for storing audio and video, readily available and affordable -- probalby as low as $300 in price by 2005.

Digital filmmaking is now seeing experimental use and the concept of "film" cameras is already on the way out in favor of digital imaging still and video cameras. A fact of reality that has companies like Eastman Kodak and Polaroid trying to catch up and deverisify into areas of new technology. (Poraroid, in fact, once attempted to market "instant home movies" and even planted to market instant slide pictures for home use. Both ventures were aborted due to the introduction of video and later digital technologies.) You will eventually see digital projection systems at your local movie theaters.

Some believe the "Star Trek" hollodeck (named for the true photographic process of 3-D picture taking, the hollogram, a novelty of the late 1960's) is only a few years away from us! 3-D interactive entertainment you can touch and feel. (The United States Army is already employing a emulation of this concept in their training of new troops -- but not quite on the level of the fictional technology used by Data and Tom Paris). But for some strange reason the once popular buzz word V.R. (anyone remember that short-lived TV series starring the cellist from "FAME"?) with its gloves and goggles never quite caught on with the masses. Virtual Reality never actually became one!

The way technology is growing by leaps and bounds the devices of science fiction may be reality in the very near future.

Maybe....

E.R.D.