Frames from early experimental attempt
to create sound motion pictures by the Edison Manufacturing Company. W.K.L.
Dickson plays the violin in front of a horn connected to a cylinder recording
machine - Kinetophones.
From the inception of motion pictures,
various inventors attempted to unite sight and sound through "talking"
motion pictures. The Edison Company is known to have experimented with
this as early as the fall of 1894 under the supervision of W. K. L. Dickson
with a film known today as [Dickson
Experimental Sound Film]. The film shows a man, who may possibly
be Dickson, playing violin before a phonograph horn as two men dance.
By the spring of 1895, Edison was
with phonographs inside their cabinets. The viewer would look into the
peep-holes of the Kinetoscope to watch the motion picture while listening
to the accompanying phonograph through two rubber ear tubes connected to
the machine (the kinetophone). The picture and sound were made somewhat
synchronous by connecting the two with a belt. Although the initial novelty
of the machine drew attention, the decline of the Kinetoscope business
and Dickson's departure from Edison ended any further work on the Kinetophone
for 18 years.
In 1913, a different version of the
Kinetophone was introduced to the public. This time, the sound was made
to synchronize with a motion picture projected onto a screen. A celluloid
cylinder record measuring 5 1/2" in diameter was used for the phonograph.
Synchronization was achieved by connecting the projector at one end of
the theater and the phonograph at the other end with a long pulley.
Nineteen talking pictures were produced
in 1913 by Edison, but by 1915 he had abandoned sound motion pictures.
There were several reasons for this. First, union rules stipulated that
local union projectionists had to operate the Kinetophones, even though
they hadn't been trained properly in its use. This led to many instances
where synchronization was not achieved, causing audience dissatisfaction.
The method of synchronization used was still less than perfect, and breaks
in the film would cause the motion picture to get out of step with the
phonograph record. The dissolution of the Motion Picture Patents Corp.
in 1915 may also have contributed to Edison's departure from sound films,
since this act deprived him of patent protection for his motion picture
Photo Library of Congress, Motion
Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division
Kinetophone Stock Certificate
Motion Picture Equipment Chronology
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