Segments in this Video

Thomas Alva Edison (02:43)


In 1928 Edison received the Congressional Gold Medal. He had laid the technological foundations for the 20th century and created motion pictures. At age 30 he produced the "talking machine." Edison believed he could do anything.

Early History of Projected Images (02:33)

The "magic lantern" was the forerunner of today's slide projector. Early inventors created ways to add life to their shows. The zoetrope brought a more sophisticated illusion of movement in 1934.

Vital Step in Motion Picture Evolution (02:26)

In 1829 Daguerre perfected photography. Creating early photographs took as long as five minutes per image. Years later sequential photographs created an accurate illusion of movement. Edison was intrigued with Muybridge's work.

The Kinetoscope (03:26)

Edison was focused on building a machine to separate iron ore with large magnets. In 1888 he added moving pictures to his list of projects. From the beginning he conceived of a motion picture machine linked to the phonograph.

Cylinder Concept (02:26)

When Thomas Edison began experimenting with motion pictures in 1888 he wasn't alone. A series of technological innovations made motion pictures possible. In Paris Edison met the inventor of the photographic gun.

New Motion Picture Machine (02:38)

Edison changed the direction of his motion picture research in 1889. He abandoned the cylinder concept, instead he wanted perforated strips of film. By May of 1981 Dixon had made enough progress for a premier.

Postponed Moving Pictures (02:23)

The kinetoscope still needed improvement but Edison turned to his ore mining project. In 1893 Edison was in need of a money making marvel and decided to announce the kinetoscope. Dixon had a nervous breakdown.

First Movie Studio (02:37)

The main theme of the 1893 Columbia Exposition in Chicago was electricity. Edison held a public showing of the kinetoscope for a group of scientists. In 1894 the "Edison Kinetoscopic Study of the Sneeze" was the first film to be copyrighted.

Kinetiscope Parlors (02:41)

Edison continued to delay commercial release of the kinetoscope. It took others in his company to push the silent machine into the market place. The first movie premier was in 1894. Soon kinetoscope parlors were all the rage.

Power of the New Medium (01:46)

Early kinetiscope films had a major impact on American culture. By 1895 audiences were increasing, but Edison's partner wanted to take the invention one step further and project the images on a screen.

Dixon's Projection System (02:10)

Frustrated with Edison's reluctance to move forward, his assistant began working with competitors. He was fired and went on to start a film company. In France Lumierre films delighted audiences with scenes from everyday life.

Vitascope Motion Picture Projector (02:10)

The fantascope projection system eliminated the annoying flicker in Edison's continuous motion kinetoscope. Edison was finally convinced to put his name on a projector. "The Kiss' was one of Edison's earliest hits.

Entertainment for Middle Class Audiences (02:08)

In April 1896 Edison's patent on the fundamental motion picture system was approved. In Europe and the U.S. alternative projection machines were popping up everywhere. Legal turmoil did not stop the growing influence of motion pictures.

The Story Film (02:00)

In 1900 the Edison Motion Picture Company gained an influential employee. Edwin S. Porter recognized that audiences were getting bored. "The Great Train Robbery" was the first movie western.

Birth of Hollywood (02:45)

By 1902 movies were exploring new forms. The film "A Trip to the Moon" represents an explosion of innovation. In the midst of industry warfare Edison and his biggest competitors called a truce and formed the Motion Pictures Patent Company

The Kinetophone (02:18)

Silent films were accompanied by offstage music. True synchronized sound remained elusive. Edison linked his sound machine with his movie equipment. In 1912 kinetophones were introduced into theaters. Edison gave up on the project.

Edison Legend (03:24)

While Edison drifted away from the movie business the silent film was maturing into the central art form of the 20th century. Edison became the most widely known inventor of the age, while Dixon's name faded into history.

Credits: Modern Marvels: Motion Picture (00:20)

Credits: Modern Marvels: Motion Picture

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or

Modern Marvels: Motion Picture

3-Year Streaming Price: $129.95



This episode of Modern Marvels traces the birth of the motion picture back to its originator, Thomas Alva Edison, “The Wizard of Menlo Park”, showcasing the technology that enabled Edison to capture motion for the first time on film. Distributed by A&E Television Networks. (45 minutes)

Length: 44 minutes

Item#: BVL42868

Copyright date: ©1996

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video, Dealer and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.