Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies
Edison Page The following timeline focuses on major
events in the inventor's personal life and on his motion picture and phonograph
- Thomas Alva Edison born on February
11 in Milan, Ohio.
- His family moves to Port Huron, Michigan.
- Young Thomas takes job selling newspapers
and candy on the Grand Trunk Railway.
- He begins work as a telegraph operator
in Port Huron.
- Obtains telegraph job for the Grand
Trunk Railway in Ontario.
- Returns to the U.S. in the fall and
goes from city to city as a telegraph operator.
- Arrives in New York City and eventually
gets job at Laws' Gold Indicator Co. after fixing the company's stock ticker.
- Receives patent in June for his first
invention, an electric vote recorder.
- Opens his first workshop in Newark,
- Marries Mary Stilwell on December
- Daughter, Marion Estelle ("Dot"),
- Moves to Menlo Park, New Jersey, and
- Son, Thomas Alva, Jr. ("Dash"), is
born on January 10.
- Invents carbon telephone transmitter,
extending the clarity and range of the telephone.
- Develops tin foil cylinder
phonograph; files patent for it on December 24 which is awarded on
February 19, 1878.
- Edison Speaking Phonograph Co. incorporated
- Son, William Leslie, is born on October
- Devises an electric incandescent light
bulb that lasts for more than 13 hours.
- Organizes the Edison Ore Milling
- Discovers phenomenon which is later
termed the "Edison Effect".
- Creates the Edison Electric Lamp Co.,
the Edison Machine Works and other companies to produce his electric lighting
- Opens a commercial electric station
in New York City with approximately 85 customers.
- The Menlo Park laboratory is closed,
and another instituted in New York City.
- Edison's wife, Mary, dies on August
- Patent awarded to Chichester A. Bell
and Charles Sumner Tainter for their wax cylinder graphophone; Edison later
refuses to collaborate with them on the invention.
- Marries Mina Miller on February 24.
- Moves his laboratory to East Newark,
- Develops the New Phonograph,
using a wax cylinder.
- Edison Phonograph Co. formed in October.
- Moves to a larger and more modern
laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey.
- Meets Eadweard
Muybridge, who shows
him his zoopraxiscope; Edison sets William K. L. Dickson and other assistants
to work to make a Kinetoscope, "an instrument which does for the Eye what
the phonograph does for the Ear".
- Improved Phonograph introduced, followed
by the Perfected Phonograph.
- Daughter, Madeleine, is born on May
- Jesse H. Lippincott assumes control
of phonograph companies by forming the North American Phonograph Co. on
July 14; leases phonographs as dictation machines.
- Files his first caveat (a Patent Office
document in which one declares his work on a particular invention in anticipation
of filing a patent application) on the Kinetoscope and Kinetograph on October
8; William Kennedy Laurie Dickson assigned to work on project.
- Produces dolls with tiny cylinders
inside to make them talk for the Edison Phonograph Toy Manufacturing Co.;
project ceases in March 1891.
- Edison General Electric formed in
- Edison Manufacturing Co. is organized.
- Lippincott becomes ill and loses control
of North American Phonograph Co. to Edison, its principal creditor.
- Son, Charles, is born on August 3.
- A peep-hole viewing machine shown
by Edison on May 20 to participants from the National Federation of Women's
- Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston
merge into General Electric.
- Construction on a film studio known
as the "Black Maria" completed in February; earliest Edison motion
pictures were filmed there.
- First public demonstration of 1 1/2"
system of Kinetoscope at the Brooklyn Institute on May 9.
- Copyright registered to William
K. L. Dickson for sample kinetoscope records on October 6.
- Declares bankruptcy for the North
American Phonograph Co.
- Applications submitted to U.S. Patent
Office for the Kinetograph and the Kinetoscope.
- First Kinetoscope parlor opened in
midtown Manhattan on April 14.
- Puts the Edison Manufacturing Co.
in charge of the manufacture and sale of Kinetoscopes and films on April
- Edison and Dickson experiment to synchronize
sound with film; the Kinetophone
is invented which loosely synchronizes a Kinetoscope image with a cylinder
- The Edison Spring Motor Phonograph
- Dickson resigns on April 2.
- C. Francis Jenkins and Thomas Armat
demonstrate their Phantoscope, a motion picture projector, in Atlanta,
Georgia, in late September to early October.
- Forms the National Phonograph Co.
with the purpose of manufacturing phongraphs for home use on January 27.
- Spring Motor Phonograph is released
under aegis of the National Phonograph Co., followed by the Edison Home
- Negotiates in January with Raff &
Gammon to manufacture the Phantoscope which Armat presents as his own invention;
machine is renamed the Vitascope in February, and Edison's name put on
- Vitascope publicly exhibited at Koster
& Bial's Music Hall on April 23 to great acclaim.
- The company begins practice of copyrighting
its films on October 23 by sending short pieces of positive nitrate film
from the motion pictures to the Library of Congress.
- Distances himself from agreement with
Raff & Gammon; introduces the Projecting Kinetoscope or Projectoscope
on November 30 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
- Edison Standard Phonograph manufactured.
- Begins to send positive paper prints
of motion pictures for copyright deposit to the Library of Congress in
- James White hired to head Kinetograph
Department at the Edison Manufacturing Co. in October.
- Begins legal battles in December that
continue for the following year against other producers and exhibitors
whom he charges with infringement.
War occurs; Edison Company sends cameraman to Cuba to film scenes of
- Son, Theodore Miller, is born on July
- Edison Concert Phonograph introduced.
- Edison Manufacturing Co. incorporated
on May 5.
- Edwin S. Porter hired by Edison Co.
in November to work with film equipment; he later becomes the company's
most famous director.
- Process for mass-producing duplicate
wax cylinders put into effect; they are known as Gold Moulded cylinders.
- A new film studio for the Edison Co.
in New York is completed in January; this is the nation's first indoor,
- U.S. Circuit Court recognizes Edison's
motion picture patent claims in his suit in July; American Mutoscope &
Biograph Company appeals decision.
- Edison cameras are present at Pan-American
Exposition when President
McKinley is shot by an assassin.
- Circuit Court's decision reversed
on March 10 by Court of Appeals, which essentially disallows Edison having
a monopoly on motion picture apparatus.
- One of the most famous early films,
, directed by Edwin S. Porter, is filmed during
Great Train Robbery
- Business Phonograph introduced.
- Nickelodeons become popular in Chicago
and later spread to other urban areas.
- Amberol Record introduced; the cylinder
could play as long as four minutes, twice as long as previous cylinders.
- Association of Edison Licensees and
Film Service Association formed; Motion Picture Patents Co. formed from
it later to include Biograph licensees.
- New film studio opened in the Bronx,
New York, June-July.
- Edwin S. Porter fired on November
- Company reorganized into Thomas A.
- Edison Disc
Phonograph shown in public for the first time.
- Disc Phonograph put on sale.
- Blue Amberol introduced, an unbreakable
cylinder with superior sound.
is introduced, which attempts to synchronize motion pictures with a phonograph
- Kinetophone abandoned.
- Tone tests for Diamond Discs introduced.
- Motion Picture Patents Co. found guilty
of antitrust violation on October 1.
- Edison named head of the Naval Consulting
- American involvement in World War
I begins; Edison creates Army and Navy Model of the Disc Phonograph.
- Motion picture studio ceases production
in February; studio sold on March 30 to the Lincoln & Parker Film Co.
- Resigns as president of Thomas A.
Edison, Inc., and becomes chairman of the board; his son, Charles takes
over as president.
- Takes over Aplitdorf-Bethlehem Electrical
Co., a move which allows him to manufacture radios.
- Awarded Congressional gold metal for
his many contributions.
- Makes programs for radio on long-playing
discs; first used by radio station WAAM of Newark, New Jersey, on April
- Edison Portable Disc Phonograph with
New Edison Needle Records introduced.
- Orders given on October 21 to close
the Edison disc business.
- Dies in West Orange on October 18.
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