Who Invented the Kinetoscope?

The kinetoscope was one of the earliest motion-picture projectors created and was introduced to filmmakers a little over 100 years ago, but who invented the kinetoscope?  Released for mass use in 1893, the kinetoscope was invented a few years earlier in 1891 by two very popular scientists that are incredibly well-known even today. As we look to answer the question, “Who invented the kinetoscope,” we’ll also examine the technology behind the forerunner of the motion-picture film projector which was invented all those years ago.

Who Invented the Kinetoscope?

The kinetoscope was invented by Thomas Edison and William Dickson in the United States in 1891 however Edison wouldn’t receive a patent for this particular item. In fact, it wasn’t until 1897 that Edison would receive a patent for a kinetographic camera, which represented new technology that was an improvement on the kinetoscopes that were popular for several years prior.

What is a Kinetoscope?

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The kinetoscope was a form of motion picture projector in which a film strip would rapidly pass through the unit between a lens and an electric light bulb while the spectator would view the image through a small peephole. The result was the appearance of an early motion picture.

Behind the peephole was a special wheel that would spin. The wheel had a narrow slit within it, and when it would spin, it acted as a shutter to show only momentary view of the various images that were rapidly passing through the kinetoscope unit. 

The kinetoscope would pass 46 frames per second by the shutter and the spectator would get a very short glimpse of each of the 46 frames as the wheel would spin. This resulted in a motion picture view that provided an almost lifelike appearance of the people and objects that had been included in the various images and created the illusion of motion.

Initially a Toy Eventually Much More

When Thomas Edison invented the kinetoscope he initially produced it as a toy thinking that children would maximize use of the unit. However, eventually the kinetoscope would become so much more than just a toy. In time, the kinetoscope would become publicly enjoyed by adults and children. In fact, the kinetoscope would ultimately find its way to a public exhibit in Broadway, New York in 1894 where it gained a lot of attention and would soon be sold overseas in Europe as the idea of the motion picture, and projection, continued to evolve and grow.

So, who invented the kinetoscope? Thomas Edison and William Dickson invented the kinetoscope in 1891 and would later patent technology that was used in cameras to produce similar project style footage. The kinetoscope was one of the earliest projectors of the motion picture.

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