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Beneath the artistry of moving images is a technology that has its roots in the late nineteenth century. Filmmaking and cinematography could not exist without the invention of the movie camera.

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When Was the Movie Camera Invented?

Though the oldest example of motion picture photography was produced in 1878 by Eadweard Muybridge, who set up 24 still cameras along a racetrack to capture a horse in motion, most film historians consider the Kinetograph camera, invented by W.K.L. Dickson under the guidance of Thomas Edison in the late 1880s and patented in 1891, to be the first functioning motion picture camera contained in a single housing. In turn, the Kinetograph gave way to the Lumiére camera, the Pleograph, the Aeroscope, and other early movie cameras.

The 5 Potential Origins of the Modern Movie Camera

The movie camera as we know it derives from the work of multiple nineteenth-century inventors.

  1. Wordsworth Donisthorpe: Donisthorpe was a British inventor who patented a form of moving film technology in 1889. His device was able to capture a series of pictures that produced the illusion of motion when shown in sequence.
  2. William Friese-Greene and Alexander Parkes: In the late 1880s and early ’90s British inventors Friese-Greene and Parkes combined moving film technology with first paper film and then celluloid roll film produced by the Eastman Kodak Company of Rochester, New York.
  3. William Kennedy Laurie Dickson and Thomas Edison: The Scottish W.K.L. Dickson worked with American Thomas Edison to create the electrically-powered Kinetograph Camera in West Orange, New Jersey in 1891.
  4. Kazimierz Prószyński: The Polish Prószyński invented the Pleograph in 1894 (its name derived from the phonograph) which was both a camera and a movie projector. Later he invented the Aeroscope, a handheld film camera.
  5. The Lumière Brothers and Charles Moisson: In 1895 Moisson invented the Lumière Domitor camera for a company owned by Auguste and Louis Lumière in Lyon, France. They began with paper film before partnering with the Celluloid Manufacturing Company of New York City.
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