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Dickson Experimental Sound Film (1894)

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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 939 users  
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The sound has been found in the form of an old Edisonian recording cylinder. The cylinder was repaired, then Walter Murch ACE MPSE synced the film to the correct music in (I believe) 2002. Total running time is approximately 17 seconds.


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Title: Dickson Experimental Sound Film (1894)

Dickson Experimental Sound Film (1894) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Uncredited cast:
William K.L. Dickson ...
Violinist (uncredited)


The earliest extant sound film. William K.L. Dickson stands in the background next to a huge sound pickup horn connected to a Thomas Edison phonograph recorder. As he plays a violin, two men dance in the foreground. This film was made to demonstrate a new Thomas Edison machine, the Kinetophone. These machines were Kinetoscope peepshow viewers mated with Thomas Edison wax cylinder phonographs. But the Kinetophone never caught on and this film was never released. The film still exists, but the phonograph soundtrack has been lost. Written by Steven W. Siferd <>

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Dickson Experimental Sound Film  »

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Technical Specs


(2003 release)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of the films in the 3-disk boxed DVD set called "More Treasures from American Film Archives (2004)", compiled by the National Film Preservation Foundation from 5 American film archives. This film is preserved by the Library of Congress; sound from the Edison National Historic Site. See more »


Man: Are the rest of you ready? Go ahead!
See more »


Featured in The Celluloid Closet (1995) See more »


The Chimes of Normandy
(1877) (uncredited)
(Originally called "Les cloches de Corneville (The Bells of Corneville)"
Written by Robert Planquette
Small section played on violin by William K.L. Dickson
See more »

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User Reviews

The first sound film, the first precode!
31 March 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The broken sound "cylinder" for this 1894 film was found in the 1960's and repaired in 1998, so film enthusiasts take heart, we might be finding some lost films twenty years from now!

In 1913 Edison announced that all the problems with talking pictures had been solved - his pronouncement was somewhat premature, and the assumption that Edison was right prevented the success of a couple of European inventors that came to the U.S. seeking financial backing for systems that might have worked in the 1910's, including a sound on film system.

Synchronizing movement and sound was not too hard - although this film was not a true attempt at synchronization. It was synchronizing speech and film in a manner such that the results looked the least bit natural and were the least bit repeatable that were the sustained problems.

And about my precode comment, Joe Breen, head censor in America from 1934 to 1952, would never allow two men to dance together in a film under any circumstance. The last time that was tried in an American film prior to the production code was "Wonder Bar" in 1934, with Al Jolson looking on, rolling his eyes, and making the remark "boys will be boys!". Although, in fairness, this film was never exhibited to the public, and the two dancing men were probably workers in Dickson's lab, the female engineer being a rarity in 1894.

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