The French Connection
Edison’s Kinetoscope was displayed in the Chicago World’s Fair, in 1893. Edison also received his patents for his movie camera, the Kinetograph along with his peepshow device, Kinetoscope. Later in 1894, the first ever Kinetoscope parlor opened in America in Broadway, New York in April 14th. The parlor had ten machines and showed moving images from 20 seconds to less than a minute for just a nickel (equivalent to 5 cents). Soon such parlors started to mushroom.
By this time Edison had build his first studio ‘Black Maria’ around 1892, in West Orange, NJ. For about eight years the early American short films were shot in Edison’s company. His company became the monopoly in early American film industry. The audience grew to thousands each day. The demand for more film footages to feed the craving crowd mounted to a new high. All over Europe and America the research for animating the still images escalated.
In the summer of 1894, Antoine Lumiere, a painter of portraits, visited one of the demonstrations of Edison’s Kinetoscope at Paris. Antoine impressed by the machine came to his sons Auguste and Louie Lumiere and shared his experience. They were one of the members of the desperate hunters for the film projection system. The father’s advice to his sons was just one. He said, “Try to take that image out of that box”. The seed that was sawn thus was grown by the Lumiere Brothers. The next year they came up with the ‘Cinematograph’, one of the most remarkable and commercially successful film projection systems of that time.
They took the name as the inventors of cinema all over Europe and this couldn’t be digested by Edison. He could not take his defeat. The more he regretted for his failure to think of a projection design like that of the Cinematograph, the urge for finding one by himself grew strong. A series of improvisations had been done to Edison’s Kinetoscope by then around Europe and America alike. It made him to file law suits against those inventors and designers, on the ground of violation of patent rights. However he couldn’t win the case because of a trivial mistake he had made in the past.
While filing the patent for the Kinetoscope, Edison had filed for the rights within America alone. If he wished to have his patent rights cover Europe as well he had an option of paying a sum of $350 in extra. He thought it was unnecessary. If ever he had filed for the European rights too, the history would have changed. What was thought trivial proved a blunder later?
Lumiere’s were getting ready by then to take the world by a sweep.