A man (Edison's assistant) takes a pinch of snuff and sneezes. This is one of the earliest Edison films and was the first motion picture to be copyrighted in the United States. Written by
Eric Sorensen <Eric_Sorensen@fc.mcps.k12.md.us>
One story has it that, in 1877, railroad tycoon Leland Stanford and a pal were having drinks on Stanford's California stud farm, when one or the other of them wondered aloud whether or not a galloping horse ever had all four hooves off the ground.
Stanford directed his chief researcher to find out. In turn, the researcher hired Eadweard Muybridge (real name: Edward Muggeridge) a landscape photographer of note, to set up 24 cameras with trip wires along a track. A horse ran through the wires, tripping the shutters of the cameras, and the resulting photographs showed that, indeed, all four of the horses' hooves were off the ground for quite a while. When viewed rapidly in sequence, these photos were the precursor to "motion pictures".
What was needed of course, was film that moved through the camera, and several people created cameras and projectors (sometimes the same device) that did this, but all had various shortcomings.
Thomas Edison directed his employee, a Scotsman named W. K. L. Dickson (who would later go on to found Biograph Pictures), to study the inferior machines then in use, and come up with something better. He did, sort of, and he (under Edison's name) came up with the kinetograph (the camera), the kinetoscope (the projector) and the kinetophone (the projected film). None of these technologies were actually new, but Dickson's advances in each device resulted in a system that simply produced better looking presentations.
On April 14, 1894, at a theater on Broadway in New York City, several of Dickson's films were presented together, at an admission fee of 25 cents. The show included short films of a dancing bear, some Vaudeville pratfalls, and, . . . "Fred Ott's Sneeze", which became the very first copyrighted motion picture.
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