by Edward Norton at Smashwords

Copyright 2011 --Edward Norton

Smashwords edition


While there are historic sites dedicated to Thomas A. Edison in New Jersey, and his genius is recognized in history books, the world has a low recognition that his works lighted the world in the 20th Century – he gave us the common light bulb, he gave us sound–the phonograph, and he and others gave us pictures that move – the movie. His other inventions fill his workshops in West Orange, NJ., a national historic site.

When movies were first shown in closed boxes then on white sheets, they were known by customers as “the flickers.” For thirty years the flickers were silent, though there were efforts to match picture with sound, Most efforts were mechanical, coordinating film with an audio disk. Real “sound on film” was a German invention, a dual strip of film that worked in unison, developed by the William Fox company.

The first commercial use of sound-on-film was Fox MovieTone’s newsreel coverage of Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight to Paris in 1927. Newsreels were part of the movie experience since the early days, when Edison and others photographed public events, such as the inauguration of William McKinley. Dramatic movies date from 1903's Great Train Robbery, and hundreds of two-reelers that led to “The Birth of A Nation” in 1915.

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