4406 entries. 94 themes. Last updated December 26, 2016.

Cinematography / Motion Pictures / Video Timeline


30 CE – 500 CE

Augustine on Silent Reading 397 CE – 1470

Was silent reading unusual during Augustine's time? If so, what implications might a comment by Augustine in his Confessions (6.3.3.) have on the larger question of whether reading was primarily oral rather than silent in the ancient world?

In "Toward a Sociology of Reading in Classical Antiquity," American Journal of Philology 121 (2000) 593-627 William A. Johnson quoted Augustine's passage from the Confessions concerning the reading habits of his mentor, the archbishop of Milan, Aurelius Ambrosius:

"When Ambrose read, his eyes ran over the columns of writing and his heart searched out the meaning, but his voice and his tongue were at rest. Often when I was present—for he did not close his door to anyone and it was customary to come in unannounced—I have seen him reading silently, never in fact otherwise. I would sit for a long time in silence, not daring to disturb someone so deep in thought, and then go on my way. I asked myself why he read in this way. Was it that he did not wish to be interrupted in those rare moments he found to refresh his mind and rest from the tumult of others' affairs? Or perhaps he was worried that he would have to explain obscurities in the text to some eager listener, or discuss other difficult problems? For he would thereby lose time and be prevented from reading as much as he had planned. But the preservation of his voice, which easily became hoarse, may well have been the true cause of his silent reading."

No later than 1470 printer Johann Mentelin of Strasbourg issued the first printing of St. Augustine's ConfessionsThe edition is undated but has been determined to be not later than 1470. 

ISTC no. ia01250000.  In November 2013 a digital facsimile was available from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek at this link.

In September 2014 I had the pleasure of viewing the German biographical film starring Franco NeroDes Leben des heiligen Augustinus (2010). Conveniently the DVD was very well dubbed in English. This was best film that I had seen to date with respect not only to its treatment of Augstine's life, but also in its authentic depiction of book rolls and early codices in the period of transition from the roll to the codex. As expected, the trailer in English did not feature the book aspect of Augustine's life.

(This entry was last revised on 10-03-2014.)

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1750 – 1800

Death by Printing Press in Stockholm 1790

Probably the best and most historically accurate film series that I had seen, as of 2014, was the Anno 1790 Swedish historic crime drama series first broadcast in 2011. I finished the series on DVD in March 2014, following the Swedish dialogue with English sub-titles. The third episode of the ten episode series, entitled in English "Fickle Woman," featured a printer working in an authentic-appearing printing shop, being killed by having his head squished in the printing press. The printer was issuing subversive political documents inspired by the French Revolution, but he mainly got into trouble with his wife for fooling around with too many women who came to get printing done.

From the blurb on the DVD set:

"The Age of Enlightenment, year 1790. After returning from the battle fields of a bloody war in Finland, Swedish army surgeon Johan Gustav Dåådh [prounounced 'Dode'] finds himself reluctantly taking on the job as district police commissioner in Stockholm. Unenthusiastic about police work, he still brings tenacity and dispassionate reasoning to the job, with an eye to ensuring that criminals are caught and the innocent remain free. His methods may not be modern but they work, and the motives for the crimes remain unchanged from today: revenge, greed, love, jealousy, and politics. Beneath the calm exterior, Dåådh is an conflicted as the times he lives in; he's a closeted revolutionary torn between his loyalty to the King and his progressive ideals. He also struggles with forbidden love for his boss' wife Magdalena, who shares his vision for a just and free society."


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1800 – 1850

Maillardet's Automaton Circa 1800

About the year 1800 Swiss mechanician Henri Maillardet, working in London, constructed Maillardet's Automaton (or the "Draughtsman-Writer", or "Maelzel's Juvenile Artist" or "Juvenile Artist"), a spring-activated automaton that draws pictures and writes verses in both French and English. The motions of the hand are produced by a series of cams located on shafts in the base of the automaton, which produces the necessary movement to complete seven sketches and the text. This automaton has the largest cam-based memory of any automaton of the era. The capacity of the automaton to store seven images within the machine was calculated as 299,040 points, or almost 300 kilobits of storage. This was achieved by placing the driving machinery in a large chest that forms the base of the machine, rather than in the automaton's body.

"The memory is contained in the 'cams,' or  brass disks. . . . As the cams are turned by the clockwork motor, three steel fingers follow their irregular edges. The fingers translate the movements of the cams into side to side, front and back, and up and down movements of the doll's writing hand through a complex system of levers and rods that produce the markings on paper" (http://www.fi.edu/learn/sci-tech/automaton/automaton.php?cts=instrumentation, accessed 12-30-2013).

When first presented to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia in 1928, the automaton was of unknown origin. Once restored to working order, the automaton itself provided the answer when it penned the words "written by the automaton of Maillardet."

This automaton was a principal inspiration for Brian Selznick's 2007 book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was later adapted to make the 2011 film Hugo directed by Martin Scorsese.

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The Phenakistoscope, the First Device to Demonstrate the Illusion of a Moving Image 1832 – 1834

In 1832 Belgian physicist Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau (Joseph Plateau) of Brussels became first person to demonstrate the illusion of a moving image. Plateau's device, which he called the phenakistoscope ("spindle viewer"), used the persistence of motion principle to create an illusion of motion. It consisted of two disks, one with small equidistant radial windows, through which the viewer could look, and another containing a sequence of images drawn around the disk in concentric circles. When viewed in a mirror through the first disk's slots, the pictures on the second disk appeared to move. The synchronization of the windows and the images created an animated effect.  Also in 1832, Viennese mathematician and inventor Simon von Stampfer invented a similar device, which he called a stroboscope.  

Two years later, 1834 when British mathematician William George Horner invented what came to be known as the zoetrope. Horner named his device a "daedalum," but it was widely called "the wheel of the devil." Perhaps the reference to the devil had less to do with Horner's device than with the often psychodelic and sometimes grotesque animated designs created for it.

Horner's invention made two significant improvements over the phenakistoscope: it could be viewed without a mirror, and more than one person could view the moving pictures at the same time.  Horner's device did not become widely popular until the 1860s when it was patented by both English and American makers, including the American game pioneer Milton Bradley. An American developer William F. Lincoln named his version of the toy the "zoetrope", meaning "wheel of life." This name became widely applied to the device.

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1850 – 1875

Eadweard Muybridge Produces the First Photographs of Motion 1872 – June 15, 1878

In 1872 former governor of California and railroad tycoon Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University, hired the English photographer Eadweard Muybridge to settle a debate whether, during its gait, all four of a horse's hooves are simultaneously off the ground. This challenged Muybridge to look for a way to capture the sequence of movement. In 1878, after six years of work on the project, Muybridge succeeded. He arranged 12 trip-wire cameras along a racetrack in the path of a galloping horse. The resulting photo sequence proved that there is a point when no hooves touch the ground and set the stage for the first motion pictures.

"In 1872, Muybridge settled Stanford's question with a single photographic negative showing his Standardbred trotting horse Occident airborne at the trot. This negative was lost, but the image survives through woodcuts made at the time (the technology for printed reproductions of photographs was still being developed). He later did additional studies, as well as improving his camera for quicker shutter speed and faster film emulsions. By 1878, spurred on by Stanford to expand the experiments, Muybridge had successfully photographed a horse at a trot; lantern slides have survived of this later work. . . .

"Stanford also wanted a study of the horse at a gallop. Muybridge planned to take a series of photos on 15 June 1878 at Stanford's Palo Alto Stock Farm. He placed numerous large glass-plate cameras in a line along the edge of the track; the shutter of each was triggered by a thread as the horse passed (in later studies he used a clockwork device to set off the shutters and capture the images). The path was lined with cloth sheets to reflect as much light as possible. He copied the images in the form of silhouettes onto a disc to be viewed in a machine he had invented, which he called a zoopraxiscope. This device was later regarded as an early movie projector, and the process as an intermediate stage toward motion pictures or cinematography.

"The study is called Sallie Gardner at a Gallop or The Horse in Motion; it shows images of the horse with all feet off the ground. This did not take place when the horse's legs were extended to the front and back, as imagined by contemporary illustrators, but when its legs were collected beneath its body as it switched from "pulling" with the front legs to "pushing" with the back legs" (Wikipedia article on Eadweard Muybridge, accessed 10-24-2013).

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1875 – 1900

Marey Pioneers Recording Scientific Results Graphically 1878

In 1878 French physiologist and chronographer Étienne-Jules Marey published La méthode graphique dans les sciences expérimentales et principalement en physiologie et en médecine in Paris. Marey pioneered the use of graphical recording in the experimental sciences, using instruments (many of his own invention) to capture and display data impossible to observe with the senses alone, and to record visually the progression of such data over time. He began by applying graphical recording methods to problems in physiology, using machines to investigate the mechanics of the circulatory, respiratory and muscular systems. After 1868 he turned to the study of human and animal locomotion, and in the 1880s he began using cinematography to record animal motion, making him one of the pioneers in this field.

Marey’s graphical recording methods, at first looked on askance by the French medical establishment, eventually led to Marey’s election to the Académie des Sciences, where he occupied the chair in the medical and surgical section once held by Claude Bernard. In the same year Marey published his La méthode graphique, an encyclopedic summary of all of his research and results so far. It began, as did all Marey’s publications, with a scrupulous history in which he enumerated his predecessors and described what he had borrowed from each. He then defined the purposes of his inscribing machines and showed how they were able to describe both movement and force as well as to store the information as material for comparison and research. He described the circulatory and locomotion phenomena he had studied, but this time he focused on methods of recording them. He reviewed the function of the mechanical models he had created, and finally he explained the locomotion of humans, horses, birds and insects and showed the devices for registering their movements. “There is nothing,” wrote Marey, “that can escape the methods of analysis at our disposal” (Braun, Picturing Time: The Work of Etienne-Jules Marey 39-40).

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The First Motion Picture Shot in the United States 1888 – 1894

In 1894 Thomas Edison of Menlo Park (now Edison), New Jersey formally introduced the Kinetograph, the first practical moving picture camera, and the Kinetoscope, a hand-cranked, single-viewer, lighted box to display the resulting films. This group of inventions was for the most part developed by Edison's employee, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson.

The first surviving experimental films Edison's group produced were Monkeyshines, No. 1 shot by Dickson and William Heise as early as 1889 or 1890:

"Scholars have differing opinions on whether the first was shot in June 1889 starring John Ott or sometime between November 21-27, 1890 starring G. Sacco Albanese. Both men were fellow lab workers at the company; contradictory evidence exists for each laim. Monkeyshines, No. 2 and Monkeyshines, No. 3 quickly followed to test further conditions" (Wikipedia article on Monkeyshines, accessed 01-19-2014).

"In 1888, American inventor and entrepreneur Thomas Alva Edison conceived of a device that would do 'for the Eye what the phonograph does for the Ear'. In October, Edison filed a preliminary claim, known as a caveat, with the U.S. Patent Office outlining his plans for the device. In March 1889, a second caveat was filed, in which the proposed motion picture device was given a name, the Kinetoscope. Dickson, then the Edison company's official photographer, was assigned to turn the concept into a reality.

"Dickson invented the first practical celluloid film for this application and decided on 35 mm for the size, a standard still used.

"Dickson and his team at the Edison lab then worked on the development of the Kinetoscope for several years. The first working prototype was unveiled in May 1891 and the design of system was essentially finalized by the fall of 1892. The completed version of the Kinetoscope was officially unveiled at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences on 9 May 1893. Not technically a projector system, it was a peep show machine showing a continuous loop of the film Dickson invented, lit by an Edison light source, viewed individually through the window of a cabinet housing its components. The Kinetoscope introduced the basic approach that would become the standard for all cinematic projection before the advent of video. It creates the illusion of movement by conveying a strip of perforated film bearing sequential images over a light source with a high-speed shutter. Dickson and his team also devised the Kinetograph, an innovative motion picture camera with rapid intermittent, or stop-and-go, film movement, to photograph movies for in-house experiments and, eventually, commercial Kinetoscope presentations" (Wikipedia article on William Kennedy Dickson, accessed 02-15-2013).

Kinetescope parlors were supplied with fifty-foot film snippets shot by Dickson, in Edison's "Black Maria" studio. The invention was a widely imitated, international success.

In June 1894 Dickson and his sister Antonia published "Edison's Invention Of The Kineto-Phonograph" in Century Magazine, and the following year they published History of the Kinetograph, Kinetoscope and Kinetophonograph. In 2001 the Museum of Modern Art published a facsimile edition of Dickson's own annotated copy of this 55-page pamphlet.

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"Roundhay Garden Scene": The Earliest Surviving Film October 14, 1888

The Roundhay Garden Scene, a short film shot by French inventor Louis Le Prince, is considered the earliest surviving motion picture by the Guiness Book of Records. Le Prince made the film using a single lens camera and Eastman's paper film at 12  frames per second, and runs for 2.11 seconds. According to Le Prince's son, Adolphe, it was filmed at Oakwood Grange, the home of Joseph and Sarah Whitley, in RoundhayLeedsWest Riding of Yorkshire, England on October 14, 1888.

The film "features Adolphe Le Prince, Sarah Whitley, Joseph Whitley and Harriet Hartley in the garden, walking around. Note that Sarah is walking backwards as she turns around, and that Joseph's coat tails are flying as he also is turning. Sarah Whitley was Le Prince's mother-in-law being the mother of John Whitley and Le Prince's wife Elizabeth Whitley LePrince. Sarah Whitley died ten days after the scene was taken" (Wikipedia article on Roundhay Garden Scene, accessed 01-19-2014).

"He [Le Prince] was never able to perform a planned public demonstration in the United States because he mysteriously vanished from a train on 16 September 1890. His body and luggage were never found, but, over a century later, a police archive was found to contain a photograph of a drowned man who could have been him. Not long after this, Thomas Edison tried to take credit for the invention. But Le Prince’s widow and son, Adolphe, were keen to advance his cause as the inventor of cinematography. In 1898 Adolphe appeared as a witness for the defence in a court case brought by Edison against the American Mutoscope Company, claiming that Edison was the first and sole inventor of cinematography (and thus entitled to royalties for the use of the process). He was not allowed to present the two cameras as evidence (and so establish Le Prince’s prior claim as inventor) and eventually the court ruled in favour of Edison; a year later that ruling was overturned" (Wikipedia article on Louis le Prince, accessed 01-19-2014).

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One of the Most Dramatic Problems in the Preservation of Media 1889 – 1955

In 1889 inventor and entrepreneur George Eastman of Rochester, New York used Cellulose Nitrate as a base for photographic roll film. Cellulose nitrate was used for photographic and professional 35mm motion picture film until the 1950s, eventually creating one of the most dramatic problems in the preservation of media.

"It is highly inflammable and also decomposes to a dangerous condition with age. When new, nitrate film could be ignited with the heat of a cigarette; partially decomposed, it can ignite spontaneously at temperatures as low as 120 F (49C). Nitrate film burns rapidly, fuelled by its own oxygen, and releases toxic fumes.

"Decomposition: There are five stages in the decomposition of nitrate film:

"(i) Amber discolouration with fading of picture.
"(ii) The emulsion becomes adhesive and films stick together; film becomes brittle.
"(iii) The film contains gas bubbles and gives off a noxious odour
"(iv) The film is soft, welded to adjacent film and frequently covered with a viscous froth
"(v) The film mass degenerates into a brownish acrid powder.

"Film in the first and second stages can be copied, as may parts of films at the third stage of decomposition. Film at the fourth or fifth stages is useless and should be immediately destroyed by your local fire brigade because of the dangers of spontaneous combustion and chemical attack on other films. Contact your local environmental health officer about this.

"It has been estimated that the majority of nitrate film will have decomposed to an uncopiable state by the year 2000, though archives are now deep-freezing film."

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The First Animated Films are Shown October 28, 1892

In 1892 Charles-Émile Reynaud, inventor of the praxinoscope, an animation system using loops of 12 pictures, created the first animated films.

"On October 28, 1892 at Musée Grévin in Paris, France he exhibited animations consisting of loops of about 500 frames, using his Théâtre Optique system - similar in principle to a modern film projector" (Wikipedia article on History of Animation, accessed 05-24-2009).

"The show, billed as Pantomimes Lumineuses, included three cartoons, Pauvre Pierrot, Un bon bock, and Le Clown et ses chiens, each consisting of 500 to 600 individually painted images and lasting about 15 minutes. Reynaud acted as the projectionist and the show was accompanied by a piano player. Although the films shown by the Lumière Brothers in 1895 eclipsed it, the show stayed at the Musée Grévin until 1900 by which time over 500,000 people had seen it" (Wikipedia article on Théâtre Optique, accessed 05-24-2009).

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The First Moving Picture: "Sortie de l'usine Lumi̬re de Lyon" Circa 1894 РMarch 19, 1895

There is much dispute as to the identity of the cinématographe, a film camera which also serves as a film projector and developer. "Some argue that the device was first invented and patented as "Cinématographe Léon Bouly" by French inventor Léon Bouly in February 12, 1892. It is said that, due to a lack of fee, Bouly was not able to pay the rent for his patent the following year, and Auguste and Louis Lumière's engineers bought the license.

"Popular thought, however, dictates that Louis Lumière was the first to conceptualise the idea, and both Lumière brothers shared the patent. They made their first film, Sortie de l'usine Lumière de Lyon, in 1894" (Wikipedia article on Cinematograph, accessed 04-22-2009).

"The date of the recording of their first film is in dispute. In an interview with Georges Sadoul given in 1948, Louis Lumière tells that he shot the film in August 1894. This is questioned by historians (Sadoul, Pinel, Chardère) who consider that a functional Lumière camera didn't exist before the end of 1894, and that their first film was recorded March 19th 1895, and then publicly projected March 22nd at the Société d'encouragement pour l'industrie nationale in Paris" (Wikipedia article on Auguste and Louis Lumiere, accessed 04-22-2009).

Seventeen meters long, when cranked through the cinématograph, Sortie de l'usine Lumière de Lyon ran for approximately 50 seconds.

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The First Known Motion Picture with Live-Recorded Sound: Invention of the Kinetophone 1894 – 1895

In 1894 or 1895 inventor William K. L. Dickson, working for Thomas Edison, made The Dickson Experimental Sound Film at Edison's Black Maria movie production studio in West Orange, New Jersey. This was the first known film with live-recorded sound.  It also appears to be the first motion picture made for the Edison-Dickson Kinetophone, the first sound film system.

The version below from the Library of Congress does not include the sound track:

"Reports suggest that in July 1893, a Kinetoscope accompanied by a cylinder phonograph had been presented at the Chicago World's Fair. The first known movie made as a test of the Kinetophone was shot at Edison's New Jersey studio in late 1894 or early 1895; now referred to as the Dickson Experimental Sound Film, it is the only surviving movie with live-recorded sound made for the Kinetophone. In March 1895, Edison offered the device for sale; involving no technological innovations, it was a Kinetoscope whose modified cabinet included an accompanying cylinder phonograph. Kinetoscope owners were also offered kits with which to retrofit their equipment. The first Kinetophone exhibitions appear to have taken place in April. Though a Library of Congress educational website states, 'The picture and sound were made somewhat synchronous by connecting the two with a belt,' this is incorrect. As historian David Robinson describes, 'The Kinetophone...made no attempt at synchronization. The viewer listened through tubes to a phonograph concealed in the cabinet and performing approximately appropriate music or other sound.' Historian Douglas Gomery concurs, '[Edison] did not try to synchronize sound and image.' Leading production sound mixer Mark Ulano writes, '[O]nly 45 Kinetophones were made. They did NOT play synchronously other than the phonograph turned on when viewing and off when stopped.' Though the surviving Dickson test involves live-recorded sound, certainly most, and probably all, of the films marketed for the Kinetophone were shot as silents, predominantly march or dance subjects; exhibitors could then choose from a variety of musical cylinders offering a rhythmic match. For example, three different cylinders with orchestral performances were proposed as accompaniments for Carmencita: "Valse Santiago", "La Paloma", and "Alma-Danza Spagnola" (Wikipedia article on Kineophone, accessed 02-15-2013).

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"Fred Ott's Sneeze": The First Silent Movie Copyrighted in the U. S. January 9, 1894

Fred Ott's Sneeze, or Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze, a 5-second black-and-white silent documentary film was shot at 16 frames per second on January 9, 1894 by William K.L. Dickson. Staring one of Edison's assistants, Fred Ott, it was the first motion picture to be copyrighted in the United States. In the very brief film Fred Ott takes a pinch of snuff and sneezes. According to the Library of Congress the short was filmed for publicity purposes as a series of still photographs to accompany an article in Harper's Weekly.  The Library of Congress preserves a gelatin paper print of the film

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The Invention of Cinematography February 13, 1895

On February 13, 1895 Louis Jean and Auguste Marie Louis Nicholas Lumière of Lyon patented the cinématographe, a three-in-one motion picture camera, developer and projector. Prior to inventing the cinématographe the Lumière brothers invented sprocket holes in the film strip as a means of getting the film through the camera and projector.

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The First Private Screening of a Motion Picture March 22, 1895

The first private screening of a motion picture "took place in Paris, at the "Society for the Development of the National Industry," in front of an audience of 200 people on March 22, 1895. Among the audience was Léon Gaumont, then director of the Comptoir de la photographie. To Louis Lumière, the main focus of this conference were the recent developments in the photograph industry, mainly research on polychromy (color photography). It was much to Lumière's surprise that the moving black-and-white images retained more attention than the colored still photographs" (Wikipedia article on Auguste and Louis Lumière, accessed 04-22-2009).

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The First Public Screening of a Film at the World's First and Oldest Cinema September 28, 1895

The first moving picture ever made, La sortie des usines Lumière. . . , was first publically screened at L'Eden, the world's first and oldest cinéma, located in La Ciotat in southeastern France.

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The First Public Commerical Screening of Films December 28, 1895

On December 28, 1895 August and Louis Lumière held their first public screening of films at which admission was charged, at Paris's Salon Indien du Grand Café.

"This history-making presentation featured ten short films, including their first film, Sortie des Usines Lumière à Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory). Each film is 17 meters long, which, when hand cranked through a projector, runs approximately 50 seconds" (Wikipedia article on August and Louis Lumière, accessed 04-22-2009).

The first two of the ten films were:

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Perhaps the Earliest Example of Stop-Motion Animation December 1899

Matches: An Appeal, an English short subject by Arthur-Melbourne Cooper, developed for the Bryant and May Matchsticks company of Bow, London in December 1899, may be the earliest surviving example of stop-motion animation. It involved stop-motion animation of wired-together matches writing a patriotic call to action on a blackboard.

"The film contains an appeal to send money to Bryant and May who would then send matches to the British troops which were fighting in the Boer War in South Africa. It was shown in December 1899 at The Empire Theatre in London. This film is the earliest known example of stop-motion animation. Little puppets, constructed of matchsticks, are writing the appeal on a black wall. Their movements are filmed frame by frame, movement by movement. With this film Britain was 6 or 7 years ahead of animation pioneers in France and the United States" (Wikipedia article on Arthur Melbourne-Cooper, accessed 02-15-2012).

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1900 – 1910

"The Story of the Kelly Gang": The First Full-Length Feature Film 1906

The first feature length multi-reel film in the world was the 1906 Australian production called The Story of the Kelly Gang, written and directly by Charles Tait. The Film, which ran for more than one hour, traced the life of the legendary infamous Australian  outlaw and bushranger Ned Kelly. Its reel length was approximately 4,000 feet (1,200 m), but only fragments survive. The film was first shown at the Athenaeum Hall in Collins Street, Melbourne, Australia on  December 26, 1906, and in the England in January 1908.

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Pathé Invents the Newsreel 1908

In 1908 the French film production company Pathé invented the newsreel that was shown in theaters prior to the feature film. The news clips featured the Pathé logo of a crowing rooster at the beginning of each reel. This form of film was a staple of North American, British, and Commonwealth countries (especially Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), and throughout European cinema programming schedule from the silent era until the 1960s when television news completely supplanted its role.

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1920 – 1930

Invention of the Theremin October 1920

In October 1920 Russian and Soviet physicist and inventor Lev Sergeevich Termen, known in the West as Léon Theremin, working at the Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg, invented the Theremin, one of the first electronic musical instruments, and the first musical instrument that was played without being touched. The instrument was invented as the result of research into proximinity sensors. It was originally known as the ætherphone/etherphone, thereminophone or termenvox/thereminox. 

"The controlling section usually consists of two metal antennas which sense the position of the player's hands and control radio frequency oscillator(s) for frequency with one hand, and volume with the other. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker. The theremin is an electrophone, a subset of the quintephone family.

"To play, the player moves his or her hands around the antennas, controlling frequency (pitch) and amplitude (volume). The theremin is associated with an "eerie" sound, which has led to its use in moviesoundtracks such as those in Spellbound, The Lost Weekend, and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Theremins are also used in art music (especially avant-garde and 20th century "new music") and in popular music genres such as rock."

". . . After positive reviews at Moscow electronics conferences, Theremin demonstrated the device to Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin. Lenin was so impressed with the device that he began taking lessons in playing it, commissioned six hundred of the instruments for distribution throughout the Soviet Union, and sent Theremin on a trip around the world to demonstrate the latest Soviet technology and the invention of electronic music. After a lengthy tour of Europe, during which time he demonstrated his invention to packed houses, Theremin found his way to the United States, where he patented his invention in 1928 (US1661058 ). Subsequently, Theremin granted commercial production rights to RCA."  

In April 2014 I was surprised to learn that Robert Moog, best known for his invention of the Moog Synthesizer, began his career in 1954 by building Theremins. In April 2104 the Moog website stated:

"The Moog Music story begins in 1954, when a young Bob Moog began building theremins, one of the oldest electronic instruments, and the only one known that you play without touching, in his basement with his father. For the uninitiated, the theremin is a single oscillator instrument that uses two metal rod antennas to control pitch and amplitude. The left antenna (a horizontal hoop) reduces the amplitude as the left hand is moved closer to it, while the right antenna (a vertical pole) increases the pitch as the right hand is moved towards it. For the last 57 years, the company Bob Moog founded has sold more theremins to more professionals than anyone in history. When it comes to quality, dependability, and tone, no one can touch the Etherwave Theremin."

(This entry was last revised on 04-29-2014.)

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From "The Rocket in Interplanetary Space" to "Frau im Mond" June 1923 – 1929

In 1923 Romanian-German physicist Hermann Oberth published Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen in Munich and Berlin at the press of R. Oldenbourg. This book began as a doctoral thesis on the rocket in interplanetary space which Oberth submitted to the University of Heidelberg in 1922. When the thesis was rejected by the university Oberth paid for its commercial publication. The work was highly influential on the founding in 1927 of the German amateur rocket society, Verein für Raumschiffahrt, to which most of the early German rocketeers belonged, and which became a focal point of early rocketry research.

In his book Oberth set out to prove four propositions: (1) that the technology of the time permitted the building of machines capable of rising above the earth’s atmosphere; (2) that these machines could attain velocities sufficient to prevent their falling back to earth, or even to escape the earth’s gravitational pull; (3) that such machines could be built to carry human beings; and (4) that under certain conditions, their manufacture might be profitable. Oberth demonstrated that a rocket can operate in a vacuum and that it can surpass the velocity of its own exhaust; he also pointed out the superiority of liquid fuels in producing maximum exhaust velocity. He described in detail the designs of a prototypical instrument-carrying rocket and a theoretical space-ship, and developed the first sketchy model of a space station.

Oberth's work became more widely known through its greatly expanded third edition, retitled Wege zur Raumschiffahrt (1929), which contained over 400 pages compared to the 1923 edition’s 92 pages.

Oberth dedicated the 1929 work to Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou, director and writer respectively of Frau im Mond (1929) one of the world’s first serious science fiction films. Oberth served as a consultant on the film, which was the first to present the basics of rocketry to a mass audience, and his income from that project was crucial in allowing him to complete the book.

Wege zum Raumschiffahrt was the first work to receive the REP-Hirsch International Astronautics Prize established in 1928 by French rocketry pioneer Robert Esnault-Pelterie and André-Louis Hirsch; the prize was awarded annually between 1929 and 1939. The purpose of the prize was to recognize “the best original theoretical or experimental works capable of promoting progress in one of the areas permitting the realization of interstellar navigation or furthering knowledge in a field related to astronautics.” In the epilogue to his book, Oberth acknowledged receipt of the REP-Hirsch Prize and expressed his surprise and gratitude that a French organization “would award such a prize to a German . . . It is encouraging to see that science and education are able to bridge national differences” (p. [424]).

An English translation of Oberth's 1929 book, Ways to Spaceflight, was published by NASA in 1972, and is downloadable from NASA's website.

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The First Full-Length Film with Synchronized Dialogue October 1927

The Jazz Singer, the first feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue sequences was released in October 1927. The film included sound sequences running about two minutes, and the rest of its dialogue was done through the sound cards of traditional silent films.  However, the commercial impact the synchronized sound was sensational, and the release of The Jazz Singer heralded the commercial ascendance of the "talkies" and the decline of the silent film era. Produced by Warner Bros. of Burbank, California with its Vitaphone sound-on-disc system, the movie starred Al Jolson, who performed six songs. The film, written by and staring Jewish Americans, focussed on Jewish-American culture as well as American jazz.

"The story begins with young Jakie Rabinowitz defying the traditions of his devout Jewish family by singing popular tunes in a beer hall. Punished by his father, a cantor, Jakie runs away from home. Some years later, now calling himself Jack Robin, he has become a talented jazz singer. He attempts to build a career as an entertainer, but his professional ambitions ultimately come into conflict with the demands of his home and heritage. . . 

"While many earlier sound films had dialogue, all were short subjects. D. W. Griffith's feature Dream Street (1921) was shown in New York with a single singing sequence and crowd noises. It was preceded by a program of sound shorts, including a sequence with Griffith speaking directly to the audience, but the feature itself had no talking scenes.Similarly, the first Warner Bros. Vitaphone features, Don Juan (premiered August 1926) and The Better 'Ole (premiered October 1926), like two more that followed in early 1927, had only a synchronized instrumental score and sound effects. The Jazz Singer contains those, as well as numerous synchronized singing sequences and some synchronized speech: Two popular tunes are performed by the young Jakie Rabinowitz, the future Jazz Singer; his father, a cantor, performs the devotional Kol Nidre; the famous cantor Yossele Rosenblatt, appearing as himself, sings another religious melody. As the adult Jack Robin, Jolson performs six songs, five popular "jazz" tunes and the Kol Nidre. The sound for the film was recorded by British-born George Groves, who had also worked on Don Juan. To direct, the studio chose Alan Crosland, who already had two Vitaphone films to his credit: Don Juan and Old San Francisco, which opened while The Jazz Singer was in production.

"The spoken words that made movie history (over considerable crowd noise) and the opening of "Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Goo' Bye)" Problems listening to this file? See media help. Jolson's first vocal performance, about fifteen minutes into the picture, is of "Dirty Hands, Dirty Face," with music by James V. Monaco and lyrics by Edgar Leslie and Grant Clarke. The first synchronized speech, uttered by Jack to a cabaret crowd and to the piano player in the band that accompanies him, occurs directly after that performance, beginning at the 17:25 mark of the film. Jack's first spoken words—"Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain't heard nothin' yet"—were well-established stage patter of Jolson's. He had even spoken very similar lines in a 1926 short, Al Jolson in "A Plantation Act." The line had developed as something of an in-joke. In November 1918, during a gala concert celebrating the end of World War I, Jolson ran onstage amid the applause for the preceding performer, the great operatic tenor Enrico Caruso, and exclaimed, "Folks, you ain't heard nothin' yet." The following year, he recorded the song "You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet". In a later scene, Jack talks with his mother, played by Eugenie Besserer, in the family parlor; his father enters and pronounces one very conclusive word. In total, the movie contains barely two minutes worth of synchronized talking, much or all of it improvised. The rest of the dialogue is presented through the caption cards, or intertitles, standard in silent movies of the era" (Wikipedia article on The Jazz Singer, accessed 01-07-2012).

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"Lights of New York": The First All-Talking Feature Film 1928

Having introduced the first feature-length part-talkie film, The Jazz Singer in 1927,  the following year Warner Brothers introduced the first all-talking feature film, Lights of New York, directed by Bryan Foy.

 "The film, which cost only $23,000 to produce, grossed over $1,000,000. It was also the first film to define the crime genre. The enthusiasm with which audiences greeted the talkies was so great that by the end of 1929, Hollywood was producing sound films exclusively" (Wikipedia article on Lights of New York (1928 film), accessed 06-04-2012).

Lights of New York was shot at 24 frames per second, which became the industry standard.

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1930 – 1940

Bob Brown: Visionary of New Reading Machines and Changes in the Process of Reading 1930 – 1931

In 1930 prolific American avant-garde writer Bob Brown (Robert Carlton Brown), published an essay entitled "The Readies" in the international avant-garde journal transition issued from Paris, no. 19/20, 167-73, calling for a new reading machine, and new reading material for it called "The Readies."  Brown intended these innovations as ways for literature to keep up with the advanced reading practices of a cinema-viewing public, as epitomized in the then new expression for sound films, "the talkies." The first feature film originally presented as a talkie had been The Jazz Singer, released in October 1927. 

"The word 'readies' suggests to me a moving type spectacle, reading at the speed rate of the day with the aid of a machine, a method of enjoying literature in a manner as up-to-date as the lively talkes. In selecting the "The Readies' as title for what I have to say about modern reading and writing I hope to catch the reader in a receptive progressive mood. I ask him to forget for the moment the existing medievalism of the BOOK (God bless it, it's staggering on its last leg and about to fall) as a conveyer of reading matter. I request the reader to fix his mental eye for a moment on the ever-present future and contemplate a reading machine which will revitalize this interest in the Optical Art of Wrting.

"In our aeroplane age radio is rushing in television, tomorrow it will be commonplace. All the arts are having their faces lifted, painting (the moderns), sculpture (Brancusi), music (Antheil), architecture (zoning law), drama (Strange Interlude), dancing (just look around you tonight) writing (Joyce, Stein, Cummings, Hemingway, transition). Only the reading half of Literature lags behind, stays old-fashioned, frumpish, beskirted. Present-day reading methods are as cumbersone as they were in the time of Caxton and Jimmy-the-Ink. Though we have advanced from Gutenberg's movable type through the linotype and monotype to photo-composing we still consult the book in its original form as the only oracular means we know for carrying the word mystically to the eye. Writing as been bottled up in books since the start. It is time to pull out the stopper.

"To continue reading at today's speed I must have a machine. A simple reading machine which I can carry or move around and attach to any old electric light plug and read hundred thousand word novels in ten minutes if I want to, and I want to. A machine as handy as a portable phonograph, typewriter or radio, compact, minute operated by electricity, the printing done microscopically by the new photographic process on a transparent tough tissue roll which carries the contents of a book and is no bigger than a typewriter ribbon, a roll like a minature serpentine that can be put in a pill box. This reading film unrolls beneath a narrow magnifying glass four or give inches long set in a reading slit, the glass brings up the otherwise unreadable type to comfortable reading size, and the read is rid at last of the cumbersome book, the inconvenience of holding its bulk, turning its pages, keeping them clean, jiggling hs weary eyes back and forth in the awkward pursuit of words from the upper left hand corner to the lower right, all over the vast confusing reading surface of a page. . . .

"My machine is equipped with controls so the reading record can be turned back or shot ahead, a chapter read or the happy ending anticipated. The magnifying glass is so set that it can be moved nearer to or father from the type, so the reader may browse in 6 points, 8, 10, 12, 16 or any size that suits him. Many books remain unread today owing to the unsuitable size of type in which they are printed. A number of readers cannot stand the strain of small type and other intellectual prowlers are offended by Great Primer. The reading machine allows free choice in type-point, it is not a fixed arbitrary bound object but an adaptable carrier of flexible, flowing reading matter. . . .

"The machine is equipped with all modern improvements. By pressing a button the roll slows down so an interesting part can be read lesurely, over and over again if need be, or by speeding up, a dozen books can skimmed through in an afternoon without soiling the fingers or losing a dust wrapper. . . .

"The material advantages of my reading machine are obvious, paper saving by condensation and elimination of waste margin space which alone takes up a fifth or sixth of the bulk of the present-day book. Ink saving in proportion, a much smaller surface needs to be covered. . . Binding will be unnecessary, paper pill boxes are produced at the fraction of the cost of cloth cases. Manual labor will be minimized. Reading will be cheap and independent of advertising which today carries the cost of the cheap reading matter purveyed exclusively in the interests of the advertiser" (167-69).

Brown also intended his device as one way of achieving "The Revolution of the Word," as called for in the manifesto published in issue 16/17 of transition by its editor Eugene Jolas in 1929. Later in 1930 Brown privately published a 52-page pamphlet entitled The Readies in an edition of 150 or 300 copies. The imprint of the pamphlet read Bad Ems: Roving Eye Press. (It is possible that the publishing location was a joke.) The pamphlet represented an expansion with examples given, of Brown's essay from transition, a revised version of which it republished as chapter 3.

Written before anyone imagined electronic computers, and even longer before anyone imagined a hand-held electronic computer, one goal of Brown's vision of new media for reading was saving space, paper and ink through media more compact than traditional printed books. Though he could not foresee how the changes would actually occur, he was also an extremely early predictor of changes to the traditional codex book that would occur sixty years later with electronic publishing. In the pre-electronic computer era Brown, like Emanuel Goldberg and Vannevar Bush, saw the future of of information primarily in the context of film and microfilm, and in developing more verbally compact means of communication. While Goldberg and Bush were focussed on developing more efficient means of information storage and retrieval, Brown was focussed on the creative aspects of new writing and new forms of communication with the reader:

"This important manifesto, on a par with André Breton's Surrealist manifestos or Tristan Tzara's Dadaist declarations, includes plans for an electric reading machine and strategies for preparing the eye for mechanized reading. There are instructions for preparing texts as “readies” and detailed quantitative explanations about the invention and mechanisms involved in this peculiar machine.

"In the generic spirit of avant-garde manifestos, Brown writes with enthusiastic hyperbole about the machine's breathtaking potential to change how we read and learn. In 1930, the beaming out of printed text over radio waves or in televised images had a science fiction quality—or, for the avant-garde, a fanciful art-stunt feel. Today, Brown’s research on reading seems remarkably prescient in light of text-messaging (with its abbreviated language), electronic text readers, and even online books like the digital edition of this volume. Brown's practical plans for his reading machine, and his descriptions of its meaning and implications for reading in general, were at least fifty years ahead of their time.  . . .

"Brown’s reading machine was designed to 'unroll a televistic readie film' in the style of modernist experiments; the design also followed the changes in reading practices during the first quarter of the twentieth century. Gertrude Stein understood that Brown’s machine, as well as his processed texts for it, suggested a shift toward a different way to comprehend texts. That is, the mechanism of this book, a type of book explicitly built to resemble reading mechanisms like ticker-tape machines rather than a codex, produced—at least for Stein—specific changes in reading practices.  

"In Brown’s Readie, punctuation marks become visual analogies. For movement we see em-dashes (—) that also, by definition, indicate that the sentence was interrupted or cut short. These created a 'cinemovietone' shorthand system. The old uses of punctuation, such as employment of periods to mark the end of a sentence, disappear. Reading machine-mediated text becomes more like watching a continuous series of flickering frames become a movie" (Afterward from: The Readies, edited with an Afterward by Craig Saper, Houston: Rice University Press,[2009] accessed 05-23-2010).

After Brown published The Readies authors in the transition circle sent  him pieces intended for publication on the hypothetical machine. In 1931 he self-published these as a 208-page book, Readies for Bob Brown's Machine, in an edition of 300 copies also from the Roving Eye Press, but this time from Cagnes-sur-mer. That work, which contained contributions by 42 authors including Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, and Paul Bowle's first appearance in a book, contained two crude illustrations of a prototype of Brown's reading machine — a wooden contraption that hardly embodied machine-age sleekness; part of it looked a bit like a waffle iron. It is unclear whether Brown's machine ever operated; probably it did not. What matters more are Brown's futuristic ideas.


♦ Following the "all digital" policy of Rice University Press since it was re-organized in 2006, the Rice edition of The Readies was available as a free download from their website, or as print-on-demand from QOOP.com. When I clicked on the purchase button on 05-23-2010, I was given the following purchase options at QOOP.com:

"+Hard Bound Laminate for $25.85

"+Hard Bound - Dust Jacket for $32.35

"+Wire-O for $16.00

"+eBook for $7.00."

♦ When I attempted to access QOOP.com in June 2013 it appeared that the site had closed down. An electronic version of Bob Brown's The Readies was then freely available at Connexions (cnx.org).

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Kodachrome, the First Color Transparency Film for Cinematography and Still Photography, is Developed 1935 – December 30, 2010

Kodachrome, the first color transparency film, was invented by musicians Leopold Godowsky, Jr. and Leopold Mannes. The project began even before the two young men graduated from high school. After viewing the 1917 film Our Navy in the early two-color additive color system, Prizma Color, Mannes and his friend Godowsky began experimenting with the use of colored filters and film, patenting a new process even before their high school graduation. They continued their experimentation and research while Mannes was studying physics and piano at Harvard and Godowsky was studying violin at UCLA. Eventually, with backing from an investor, the pair was able to convince Kodak of the value of their discoveries. In 1930, they moved to Kodak's Rochester headquarters, and within three years they developed the technique of three-color emulsion on which Kodachrome was based.

Kodachrome 16mm movie film was released for sale in 1935, and in 1936 Kodachrome 35mm still and 8mm movie film were released. To some Kodachrome was the best slide and movie film ever produced. Kodak produced the film and the chemicals required to develop Kodachrome from 1935 to 2009, by which time digital photography had, for the most part, replaced film photography.

According to the The New York Times, the last remaining roll of Kodachrome was developed on at Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas on December 30, 2010.

(This entry was last revised on 07-10-2014.)

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Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times" 1936

In Los Angeles in 1936 Charlie Chaplin wrote, directed and starred in the film, Modern Times. In his final silent-film appearance Chaplin portrayed his Little Tramp character struggling to survive in the industrialized world in which assembly lines dehumanize work and robots replace people. The film is also a comment on the desperate employment and fiscal conditions many people faced during the Great Depression—conditions created, in Chaplin's view, by the efficiencies of modern industrialization. The movie also starred Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Stanley Sandford and Chester Conklin.

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The First NBC / RCA Television Broadcast Is Recorded on Film July 7, 1936

On July 7, 1936 the NBC division of RCA made its first television broadcas in New York. The broadcast was filmed:

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Elektro, the Most Famous Robot of the 1930s 1937 – 1938

Elektro, a robot built by the Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric Corporation in its Mansfield, Ohio facility between 1937 and 1938, was seven feet tall and weighed 265 pounds.  Humanoid in appearance, he (it) could walk by voice command, speak about 700 words (using a 78-rpm record player), smoke cigarettes, blow up balloons, and move his head and arms. Elektro became the most famous robot of the 1930s.

Elektro's body consisted of a steel gear, cam and motor skeleton covered by an aluminum skin. His photoelectric "eyes" could distinguish red and green light. He was on exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair and reappeared at that fair in 1940, with "Sparko", a robot dog that could bark, sit, and beg.

"Elektro toured North America in 1950 in promotional appearances for Westinghouse, and was displayed at Pacific Ocean Park in Venice, California in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He also appeared as "Thinko", in Sex Kittens Go to College (1960), which starred Mamie Van Doren and Tuesday Weld. In the 1960s, his head was given to a retiring Westinghouse engineer and his body was sold for scrap." (Wikipedia article on Elektro, accessed 02-21-2012).

Remarkably Elektro seems to have survived the scrap heap, and in 2012 was reportedly being restored for the Mansfield Memorial Museum.

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1940 – 1950

Glamorous Film Actress Hedy Lamarr Invents Spread-Sprectrum 1940

In 1940 Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr and her neighbor, avant-garde composer George Antheil, invented “frequency-hopping” transmission, now called spread-spectrum. The following year Lamarr patented "frequency-hopping" under her then-married name of H. K. Markey, and assigned the patent to the U.S. Government. This early version of frequency hopping used a piano-roll to change between 88 frequencies, and was intended to make radio-guided torpedoes harder for enemies to detect or jam.

♦ In 2011 historian and writer Richard Rhodes told this unusual story in detail in Hedy's Folly. The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World.

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The Maltese Falcon Film Prop Sells for $4,085,000 1941 – November 25, 2013

On November 25, 2013 Bonhams in New York sold the iconic lead statuette of the Maltese Falcon from the classic 1941 film noir, The Maltese Falcon, directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet for $4,085,000.  According to Warner Brothers, the auctioned statuette was the only figurine of two made for the film that appeared in the movie.

"The statuette, which sold for $4,085,000 at Bonhams, has a Warner Brothers inventory number etched into its base and bears the name of the film.

"The figurine ranks as one of the most expensive pieces of film memorabilia ever sold at auction, beating the $2 million (£1.2m) paid for Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz in 2012 and the £2.6 million ($4.1 m) paid for the Aston Martin driven by Sean Connery in Goldfinger in 2010.

"Dr Catherine Williamson, director of the entertainment memorabilia department at Bonhams, said: 'The spectacular price achieved reflects the statuette’s tremendous significance. The Maltese Falcon is arguably the most important movie prop ever, and is central to the history of cinema.'

"In the 1940's film noir, the statuette features as a ‘priceless’ work of art, which is the cause of several murders, and at one point changes hands for $10,000" (http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/maltese-falcon-sells-for-4m-at-auction-8964038.html, accessed 11-26-2013).

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Humphrey Bogart and Dorothy Malone Appear in Probably the Most Famous Bookstore Scene in Movie History 1946

Probably the most famous bookstore scene in movie history was in The Big Sleepa classic 1946 film noir of Raymond Chandler's 1939 novel, with a screenplay co-written by William FaulknerLeigh Brackett, and Jules Furthman. In the bookstore scene detective Philip Marlow played by Humphrey Bogart visited the Acme Book Shop and enjoyed a witty, pseudobibliophilic and teasing interchange with the seductive bookstore owner played by Dorothy Malone

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1950 – 1960

"Newspaper Story": a Film About Newspaper Production 1950

In 1950 Encylopedia Brittanica Films produced Newspaper Story about newspaper production from news gathering to the finished product.

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Probably the Best "Book Store" Film Noir 1952

Man Bait, originally released in England by Hammer Film Productions under the title of The Last Page in 1952 was a film noir directed by Terence Fisher starring George Brent and Marguerite Chapman. It also represented the screen debut of sexy Diana Dors, a Marilyn Monroe lookalike who was actually classically trained in acting, as the femme fatale.  

In the film the married manager (Brent) of a bookstore, which sells both new and rare books, is attracted to his sexy blonde clerk (Dors). He attempts to resist temptation but finally kisses her in his office, though the romance does not proceed beyond one kiss. Dors, who had become infatuated with a man played by Peter Reynolds, who she witnessed stealing a rare book in the store, blackmails the bookstore manager for kissing her (remarkably), sending a letter to the manager's wife. The manager's wife, a bed-ridden invalid, unbelievably dies as she gets out of bed to burn the letter. Dors is murdered by the ex-con, with her body stuffed into a shipping crate that was intended for a book shipment. The manager is framed for the murder. 

As unlikely as the plot is, in my opinion and the opinion of many of my colleagues, Man Bait is the best bookstore mystery film, and perhaps the most interesting film set in an antiquarian bookstore. The main area in which the film deviates from authenticity in book trade practice is the seemingly enormous bookstore staff (perhaps 10 people) working in a store which appears to do relatively insignificant business.

The original title of the film, The Last Page, is much more in character with the subdued, sultry sexuality of the film, compared to the graphic elements suggested in the revised title Man Bait, and the graphic elements of the posters advertising the film under that title which strongly emphasize the busty aspect of Ms. Dors.

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"A Sound of Thunder": Famous Science Fiction Story; Dubious Film June 27, 1952

"A Sound of Thunder,"a science fiction short story by Ray Bradbury, was first published in Collier's magazine in June 28, 1952, and was very widely reprinted for decades. The story was based on the idea of the butterfly effect, in which a very small event could cause a major change in the outcome of later events. Bradbury's story, set in 2055, concerned the use of a time machine to travel back into the very distant past. In the story the killing of a butterfly during the time of dinosaurs caused the future to change in subtle, but meaningful ways. For those of us who sometimes wonder what might have happened had this or that event been a little different, this story may have special interest.

Here is a radio adaptation of the story:

In 2004 Bradbury's story was made into a feature film with the same title. Why the distinguished actor Ben Kingsley accepted a leading role in this questionable film remains unclear. The film was widely panned by critics and viewers, and bombed at the box office, but I found it amusing enough to include this in the database:

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Ray Bradbury's Early Dystopian View of Books: "Fahrenheit 451" 1953 – November 2011

Having written the entire book on a pay typewriter in the basement of UCLA's Powell Library, in 1953 Ray Bradbury published the dystopian science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451, named after the temperature at which books are supposed to combust spontaneously. Besides the regular trade edition, the publisher, Ballantine Books, issued a limited edition of 200 copies signed by Bradbury and bound in white boards made of "Johns-Manville Quinterra," a fire-proof asbestos material.

"The novel presents a future American society in which the masses are hedonistic, and critical thought through reading is outlawed. The central character, Guy Montag, is employed is a 'fireman' (which, in this future, means 'book burner'). The number '451' refers to the temperature (in Fahrenheit) at which the books burn when the 'Firemen' burn them 'For the good of humanity'. Written in the early years of the Cold War, the novel is a critique of what Bradbury saw as an increasingly dysfunctional American society.

Bradbury's original intention in writing Fahrenheit 451 was to show his great love for books and libraries. "He has often referred to Montag as an allusion to himself" (Wikipedia article on Fahrenheit 451).

François Truffaut and Jean-Louis Richard wrote a screenplay based on the novel, and Truffault directed a film, released in 1966, entitled Fahrenheit 451, starring Julie Christie and Oskar Werner. The film was re-issued on DVD by Universal Studios in 2003.

♦ After publically opposing ebooks for several years, telling The New York Times in 2009 that "that the Internet is a big distraction," in November 2011, at the age of 91, Bradbury authorized an ebook edition of Fahrenheit 451, and several other of his best-selling books. By this date Fahrenheit 451 had sold more than 10 million copies in print, and had been translated into many languages. Also by this date, ebooks comprised 20% of the fiction book market in the U.S. 

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One of the Earliest Surviving British Television Dramas December 12 – December 14, 1954

From December 12-14, 1954 the BBC presented a television production of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, adapted for television by Nigel  Kneale.

"Kneale's script was a largely faithful adaptation of the novel as far as was practical with the limitations of the medium. The writer did, however, make some small additions of his own, the most notable being the creation of a sequence in which O'Brien observes Julia at work in PornoSec, and reads a small segment from one of the erotic novels being written by the machines there."

"When it had become clear what an important production Nineteen Eighty-Four was, it was arranged for the second performance [December 14, 1954] to be telerecorded onto 35mm film – the first performance having simply disappeared off into the ether, as it was shown live, seen only by those who were watching on the Sunday evening. At this stage, Videotape recording was still at the development stage and television images could only be preserved on film by using a special recording apparatus (known as "telerecording" in the UK and "kinescoping" in the USA), but was only used sparingly, then in Britain for historic preservation reasons and not for pre-recording. It is thus the second performance that survives in the archives, one of the earliest surviving British television dramas" (Wikipedia article on Nineteen Eight-Four (TV Programme), accessed 07-26-2009).

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The Sensorama: One of the First Functioning Efforts in Virtual Reality 1955 – 1962

American cinematographer and inventor Morton Heilig described his vision of a multi-sensory theater in a 1955 paper entitled "The Cinema of the Future."

In 1962 Heilig built a prototype of his immersive, multi-sensory, mechanical multimodal theater called the Sensorama, and created five short films to be displayed in it.  On August 28, 1962 Heilig was granted U.S. Patent 3,050,870 for a "Sensorama Simulator."  This invention is considered one of the earliest functioning efforts in virtual reality.

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Television: A Retrospective in 1956 from the RCA / NBC Viewpoint 1956

In 1956 David Sarnoff of RCA /NBC had a film produced telling the early history of electronic television from their prospective:

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The First Video Tape Recorder 1956

In 1956 Ray Dolby, Charles Ginsberg and Charles Anderson of Ampex in San Carlos, California, sold the first video tape recorder. It cost $50,000.

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Standing up to Censorship and McCarthyism During the "Second Red Scare" 1956

In 1956 Storm Center, an American drama film directed by screenwriter Daniel Taradash, from a screenplay by Taradash and Elick Moll, and starring Bette Davis as the librarian, Alicia Hull, was first overtly anti-McCarthyism film to be produced in Hollywood during the height of the "Second Red Scare" (late 1940s through late 1950s).  During the Second Red Scare hundreds of Hollywood entertainment professionals lost their jobs as a result of the unofficial Hollywood blacklist, and thousands of people in other occupations also lost jobs.

"Alicia Hull is a widowed small town librarian dedicated to introducing children to the joy of reading. In exchange for fulfilling her request for a children's wing, the city council asks her to withdraw the book The Communist Dream from the library's collection. When she refuses to comply with their demand, she is fired and branded as a subversive. Judge Ellerbe feels she has been treated unfairly and calls a town meeting. Ambitious attorney and aspiring politician Paul Duncan, who is dating assistant librarian Martha Lockeridge, uses the meeting as an opportunity to make a name for himself by denouncing Alicia as a Communist. His forceful rhetoric turns the entire town, with the exception of young Freddie Slater, against her. The boy, increasingly upset by the mistreatment his mentor is suffering and affected by the influence of his narrow-minded father, finally turns on her himself and sets the library on fire. His action causes the residents to have a change of heart, and they ask Alicia to return and supervise the construction of a new building" (Wikipedia article on Storm Center, accessed 05-30-2009).

Raven, "Introduction: The Resonances of Loss," (Raven [ed.] Lost Libraries. The Destruction of Great Book Collections Since Antiquity [2004] 31).

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"Nineteen Eighty-Four" Filmed 1956

In 1956 English director Michael Anderson directed 1984, a science fiction drama film based on the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, and starring Edmond O'Brien, Jan Sterling, Michael Redgrave, and Donald Pleasance.

This was the first cinema rendition of the novel. It was released on DVD in 2004.

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The Movie "Desk Set", Satirizing the Role of Automation in Eliminating Jobs, and Librarians 1957

The romantic comedy film, Desk Set, brought to the silver screen in 1957, was the first film to dramatize and satirize the role of automation in eliminating traditional jobs. The name of the computer in the film, EMERAC, and its room-size installation, was an obvious take-off on UNIVAC, the best-known computer at the time. In the film, the computer was brought-in to replace the library of books, and its staff—an early foreshadowing of the physical information versus digital information issue.  Directed by Walter Lang and starring Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Gig Young, Joan Blondell, and Dina Merrill, the screenplay was written by Phoebe Ephron and Henry Ephron from the play by William Marchant.

The film "takes place at the "Federal Broadcasting Network" (exterior shots are of Rockefeller Center, in New York City, headquarters of NBC). Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn) is in charge of its reference library, which is responsible for researching and answering questions on all manner of topics, such as the names of Santa's reindeer. She has been involved for seven years with network executive Mike Cutler (Gig Young), with no marriage in sight.

"The network is negotiating a merger with another company, but is keeping it secret. To help the employees cope with the extra work that will result, the network head has ordered two computers (called "electronic brains" in the film). Richard Sumner (Spencer Tracy), the inventor of EMERAC and an efficiency expert, is brought in to see how the library functions, to figure out how to ease the transition. Though extremely bright, as he gets to know Bunny, he is surprised to discover that she is every bit his match.

"When they find out the computers are coming, the employees jump to the conclusion the machines are going to replace them. Their fears seem to be confirmed when everyone on the staff receives a pink slip printed out by the new payroll computer. Fortunately, it turns out to be a mistake; the machine fired everybody in the company, including the president" Wikipedia article on Desk Set, accessed 12-23-2008).

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Animated Title Sequence by Electromechanical Analog Computer 1958

Title sequence from Vertigo; titles designed by Saul Bass; spirographic images contributed by John Whitney.

In the late 1950s American animator, composer and inventor John Whitney a WWII vintage Kerrison Predictor electromechanical analog computer at an army surplus store. He connected the electrical outputs to servos controlling the positioning of small lit targets and light bulbs. Whitney's next step was to modify the "mathematics" of the system to move the targets in various mathematically controlled ways, a technique he referred to as incremental drift. As the power of the systems grew they eventually evolved into what is today known as motion control photography, a widely used technique in special effects filming.

Probably Whitney's best known work from this early period was the animated title sequence from Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 film Vertigo, on which Whitney collaborated with graphic designer Saul Bass.

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1960 – 1970

The First and Only Use of Smell-O-Vision 1960

The 1960 mystery film, Scent of Mystery, starring Denholm Elliott, Peter Lorre and Elizabeth Taylor, was the only film to feature Smell-O-Vision, a system that timed odors to points in the film's plot. It was the first film in which aromas were integral to the story, providing important details to the audience. It was produced by Mike Todd, Jr., the stepson of Elizabeth Taylor. In 2014, when I wrote this entry, Smell-O-Vision was considered an early, kitschy step in the direction of virtual reality.

"The film opened in three specially equipped theaters in February, 1960, in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Unfortunately, the mechanism did not work properly. According to Variety, aromas were released with a distracting hissing noise and audience members in the balcony complained that the scents reached them several seconds after the action was shown on the screen. In other parts of the theater, the odors were too faint, causing audience members to sniff loudly in an attempt to catch the scent.

"Technical adjustments by the manufacturers of Smell-O-Vision solved these problems, but by then it was too late. Negative reviews, in conjunction with word of mouth, caused the film to fail miserably. Comedian Henny Youngman quipped, "I didn't understand the picture. I had a cold." Todd did not produce another film until 1979's The Bell Jar, which was also his last film.

"The film was eventually retitled as Holiday in Spain and re-released, sans odors. However, as The Daily Telegraph described it, "the film acquired a baffling, almost surreal quality, since there was no reason why, for example, a loaf of bread should be lifted from the oven and thrust into the camera for what seemed to be an unconscionably long time."

"Scent of Mystery was aired once on television by MTV in the 1980s, in conjunction with a convenience store promotion that offered scratch and sniff cards that viewers were to use to recreate the theater experience" (Wikipedia article on Scent of Mystery, accessed 04-03-2014.)

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The IBM 7094 is The First Computer to Sing 1961

A recording made at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey on an IBM 7094 mainframe computer in 1961 is the earliest known recording of a computer-synthesized voice singing a song— Daisy Bell, also known as "Bicycle Built for Two." The recording was programmed by physicist John L. Kelly Jr., and Carol Lockbaum, and featured musical accompaniment written by computer music pioneer Max  Mathews.

The science fiction novelist Arthur C. Clarke witnessed a demonstration of the piece while visiting his friend, the electric engineer and science fiction writer, John R. Pierce, who was a Bell Labs employee at the time. Clarke was so impressed that he incorporated the 7094's musical performance in the 1968 novel, and the script for the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. One of the first things that Clarke’s fictional HAL 9000 computer had learned when it was originally programmed was the song "Daisy Bell". Near the end of the story, when the computer was being deactivated, or put to sleep by astronaut Dave Bowman, it lost its mind and degenerated to singing "Daisy Bell."

(This entry was last revised on 03-21-2015.)

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Edward Zajac Produces the First Computer-Animated Film 1963

In 1963 Edward E. Zajac at Bell Labs, Murray Hill, New Jersey, produced the first computer-animated film, a 1.25 minute film entitled Simultation of Two-Gyro Gravity-Gradient Attitude Control System to define how a particular type of satellite would move through space. The film, also narrated by Zajac, simulated the motion and autorotation of a communication satellite as a succession of single phases.   

"Zajac programmed the calculations in FORTRAN, then used a program written by Zajac's colleague, Frank Sinden, called ORBIT. The original computations were fed into the computer via punch cards, then the output was printed onto microfilm using the General Dynamics Electronics Stromberg-Carlson 4020 microfilm recorder. All computer processing was done on an IBM 7090 or 7094 series computer" (http://techchannel.att.com/play-video.cfm/2012/7/18/AT&T-Archives-First-Computer-Generated-Graphics-Film, accessed 01-19-2014).

In 1964 Zajac published "Computer-Made Perspective Movies as a Scientific and Communication Tool," Communications of the ACM 7 no. 3 (March 1964) 169-170. Two years later he published, "Film Animation by Computer," New Scientist 29 (1966) 346-49, which described the making of Two-Gyro Gravity-Gradient Attitude Control System. This article also incorporated illustrations from Kenneth C. Knowlton's "A Computer technique for Producing Animated Movies," AFIPS '64 (Spring) Proceedings of the April 21-23, 1964 Spring Joint Computer Conference, 67-87.  My copy of Zajac's article was reprinted as Bell Telephone System Techical Publications Monograph 5150 (April, 1966).

Franke, Computer Graphics, Computer Art (1971) 93.

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Using his BEFLIX Computer Animation Language, Ken Knowlton Produces "A Computer Technique for the Production of Animated Movies" 1963 – 1966

In 1963, Kenneth C. Knowlton, working at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, NJ, developed the BEFLIX (Bell Flicks) programming language for bitmap computer-produced movies, using an IBM 7094 computer and a Stromberg-Carlson 4020 microfilm recorder. This was the first computer animation language. Each frame created with BEFLIX contained eight shades of grey and a resolution of 252 x 184. Using this technique, Knowlton in 1963 created a 10 minute 16mm silent film entitled A Computer Technique for the Production of Animated Movies.  

At the Spring Joint Computer Conference of AFIPS, on April 21-23, 1964 Knowlton delivered a paper entitled, appropriately enough, "A computer technique for producing animated movies." This was published in the Proceedings on pp. 67-87. The paper reproduced some images from Knowlton's film and indicated that the film could be borrowed from Bell Labs. Most of the paper reproduced programming code in Beflix.

The following year published "Computer-Produced Movies. A computer-controlled display tube and camera can produce animated movies quickly and economically," Science 150 (November 16, 1965) 1116-1120. This was offprinted as Bell Telephone System Technical Publications Monograph 5112.

And, in 1966 Knowlton published "Computer-Generated Movies, Designs and Diagrams," Design Quarterly, No. 66/67, Design and the Computer (1966), 58-63.

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The Assassination of John F. Kennedy & its Coverage on Radio & Television November 23, 1963

On November 22, 1963 at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated by a sniper in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas while traveling with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally, and Connally's wife Nellie, in a presidential motorcade. 

According to Howard Rosenberg and Charles Feldman, No Time to Think. The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-Hour News Cycle, p. 18, the story was first reported by United Press International White House reporter Merriman Smith, who "outfought rival Associated Press reporter Jack Bell for a radiophone in their wire services limo so that he could be first to report that the president's motorcade had taken fire. In fact, 68 percent of Americans learned that Kennedy had been shot within 30 minutes of the attack." The story was arguably the biggest spot news, or breaking news story since Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

"No radio or television stations broadcast the assassination live because the area through which the motorcade was traveling was not considered important enough for a live broadcast. Most media crews were not even with the motorcade but were waiting instead at the Dallas Trade Mart in anticipation of President Kennedy's arrival. Those members of the media who were with the motorcade were riding at the rear of the procession.

"The Dallas police were recording their radio transmissions over two channels. A frequency designated as Channel One was used for routine police communications; Channel Two was an auxiliary channel dedicated to the President's motorcade. Up until the time of the assassination, most of the broadcasts on the second channel consisted of Police Chief Jesse Curry's announcements of the location of the motorcade as it wound through the city.

"President Kennedy's last seconds traveling through Dealey Plaza were recorded on silent 8 mm film for the 26.6 seconds before, during, and immediately following the assassination. This famous film footage was taken by garment manufacturer and amateur cameraman Abraham Zapruder, in what became known as the Zapruder film. Frame enlargements from the Zapruder film were published by Life magazine shortly after the assassination. The footage was first shown publicly as a film at the trial of Clay Shaw in 1969, and on television in 1975. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, an arbitration panel ordered the U.S. government to pay $615,384 per second of film to Zapruder's heirs for giving the film to the National Archives. The complete film, which lasts for 26 seconds, was valued at $16 million.

"Zapruder was not the only person who photographed at least part of the assassination; a total of 32 photographers were in Dealey Plaza. Amateur movies taken by Orville NixMarie Muchmore (shown on television in New York on November 26, 1963), and photographer Charles Bronson captured the fatal shot, although at a greater distance than Zapruder. Other motion picture films were taken in Dealey Plaza at or around the time of the shooting by Robert Hughes, F. Mark Bell, Elsie Dorman, John Martin Jr., Patsy Paschall, Tina Towner, James Underwood, Dave Wiegman, Mal Couch, Thomas Atkins, and an unknown woman in a blue dress on the south side of Elm Street.

"Still photos were taken by Phillip WillisMary Moorman, Hugh W. Betzner Jr., Wilma Bond, Robert Croft, and many others. The lone professional photographer in Dealey Plaza who was not in the press cars was Ike Altgens, photo editor for the Associated Press in Dallas.

"An unidentified woman, nicknamed the Babushka Lady by researchers, might have been filming the Presidential motorcade during the assassination. She was seen apparently doing so on film and in photographs taken by the others.

"Previously unknown color footage filmed on the assassination day by George Jefferies was released on February 19, 2007 by the Sixth Floor Museum, Dallas, Texas. The film does not include the shooting, having been taken roughly 90 seconds beforehand and a couple of blocks away. The only detail relevant to the investigation of the assassination is a clear view of President Kennedy's bunched suit jacket, just below the collar, which has led to different calculations about how low in the back President Kennedy was first shot. . . ." (Wikipedia article on Assassination of John F. Kenneday, accessed 10-18-2014.)

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Irving John Good Originates the Concept of the Technological Singularity 1965

In 1965 British mathematician Irving John Good, originally named Isidore Jacob Gudak, published "Speculations Concerning the First Ultraintelligent Machine," Advances in Computers, vol. 6 (1965) 31ff. This paper, published while Good held research positions at Trinity College, Oxford and at Atlas Computer Laboratory, originated the concept later known as "technological singularity," which anticipates the eventual existence of superhuman intelligence:

"Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an 'intelligence explosion,' and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make." 

Stanley Kubrick consulted Good regarding aspects of computing and artificial intelligence when filming 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), one of whose principal characters was the paranoid HAL 9000 supercomputer.

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Stanley Kubrick & Arthur C. Clarke Create "2001: A Space Odyssey" 1968

In 1968 the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, written by American film director Stanley Kubrick in collaboration with science fiction writer and futurist Arthur C. Clarke, captured imaginations with the idea of a computer that could see, speak, hear, and “think.” 

Perhaps the star of the film was the HAL 9000 computer. "HAL (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic Computer) is an artificial intelligence, the sentient on-board computer of the spaceship Discovery. HAL is usually represented only as his television camera "eyes" that can be seen throughout the Discovery spaceship.... HAL is depicted as being capable not only of speech recognition, facial recognition, and natural language processing, but also lip reading, art appreciation, interpreting emotions, expressing emotions, reasoning, and chess, in addition to maintaining all systems on an interplanetary voyage.

"HAL is never visualized as a single entity. He is, however, portrayed with a soft voice and a conversational manner. This is in contrast to the human astronauts, who speak in terse monotone, as do all other actors in the film" (Wikipedia article on HAL 9000, accessed 05-24-2009).

"Kubrick and Clarke had met in New York City in 1964 to discuss the possibility of a collaborative film project. As the idea developed, it was decided that the story for the film was to be loosely based on Clarke's short story "The Sentinel", written in 1948 as an entry in a BBC short story competition. Originally, Clarke was going to write the screenplay for the film, but Kubrick suggested during one of their brainstorming meetings that before beginning on the actual script, they should let their imaginations soar free by writing a novel first, which the film would be based on upon its completion. 'This is more or less the way it worked out, though toward the end, novel and screenplay were being written simultaneously, with feedback in both directions. Thus I rewrote some sections after seeing the movie rushes -- a rather expensive method of literary creation, which few other authors can have enjoyed.' The novel ended up being published a few months after the release of the movie" (Wikipedia article on Arthur C. Clarke, accessed 05-24-2009).

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Philip K. Dick Imagines Replicants 1968

In 1968 American writer Philip K. Dick published his science fiction novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? It told of the moral crisis of Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter who stalked androids—robots visually identifical to people—in a fall-out clouded, dystopic, partially deserted San Francisco.

In 1982 the novel was brought to the screen as Blade Runner, with its location changed to Los Angeles. 

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"Incredible Machine" State of the Art in Computer Generated Film, Graphics and Music in 1968 1968

In 1968 scientists at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey, created "Incredible Machine,"a color film that that represented the state-of-the- art in computer-generated film, graphics, and music at the time. 

The film featured artwork and computer graphics by Ken Knowlton and 
computer-generated music by Max Mathews. The title sequence was programmed by A. Michael Noll using his four-dimensional animation technique and is perhaps the first use of computer animation for title sequences. The computer ballet during the end credits was by A. Michael Noll. The basilar membrane animation was done by Robert C. Lummis, Man Mohan Sondhi, and A. Michael Noll.

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Lee Harrison's Scanimate: The First Widely Applied Analog Computer Animation System Circa 1968 – 1985

In 1962 Lee Harrison III built ANIMAC, a hybrid graphic animation computer. This was a precursor to the Scanimate, an analog computer animation system designed and built Harrison and the Computer Image Corporation in Denver. From the around 1969 to the mid 1980s Scanimates were used to produce a significant portion of the video-based animation seen on television in commercials, show titles, and other graphics. Scanimates could create animations in real time. This helped the system to supercede film-based animation techniques for television graphics, and from the early 1970s to early 1980s systems were in operation in Japan, Australia, Luxembourg, London, New York, Hollywood and Denver. Altogether eight Scanimate systems were built. The systems were also used in films. However, by the mid-1980s Scanimate was superseded by digital computer animation, which produced sharper images and more sophisticated 3D imagery.

"Animations created on Scanimate and similar analog computer animation systems have a number of characteristic features that distinguish them from film-based animation: The motion is extremely fluid, using all 60 fields per second (in NTSC format video) or 50 fields (in PAL format video) rather than the 24 frames per second that film uses; the colors are much brighter and more saturated; and the images have a very "electronic" look that results from the direct manipulation of video signals through which the Scanimate produces the images.

"A special high-resolution (around 800 lines) monochrome camera records high-contrast artwork. The image is then displayed on a high-resolution screen. Unlike a normal monitor, its deflection signals are passed through a special analog computer that enables the operator to bend the image in a variety of ways. The image is then shot from the screen by either a film camera or a video camera. In the case of a video camera this signal is then fed into a colorizer, a device that takes certain shades of grey and turns it into color as well as transparency. The idea behind this is that the output of the Scanimate itself is always monochrome. Another advantage of the colorizer is that it gives the operator the ability to continuously add layers of graphics. This makes possible the creation of very complex graphics. This is done by using two video recorders. The background is played by one recorder and then recorded by another one. This process is repeated for every layer. This requires very high-quality video recorders (such as both the Ampex VR-2000 or IVC's IVC-9000 of Scanimate's era, the IVC-9000 being used quite frequently for Scanimate composition due to its very high generational quality between re-recordings) " (Wikipedia article on Scanimate, accessed 02-01-2014).

In January 2014 a major archive of Scanimate information and videos was available from Dave Sieg's scanimate.sfx.com.

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Cybernetic Serendipity: The First Widely-Attended International Exhibition of Computer Art August 2 – October 20, 1968

From August 2  to October 20, 1968 Cybernetic Serendipity: The Computer and the Arts was exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, curated by British art critic, editor, and Assistant Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts Jasia Reichardt, at the suggestion of Max Bense. This was the first widely attended international exhibition of computer art, and the first exhibition to attempt to demonstrate all aspects of computer-aided creative activity: art, music, poetry, dance, sculpture, animation.

In the video below Jasia Reichardt introduced the exhibition:

"It drew together 325 participants from many countries; attendance figures reached somewhere between 45,000 and 60,000 (accounts differ) and it received wide and generally positive press coverage ranging from the Daily Mirror newspaper to the fashion magazine Vogue. A scaled-down version toured to the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC and then the Exploratorium, the museum of science, art and human perception in San Francisco. It took Reichardt three years of fundraising, travelling and planning" (Mason, a computer in the art room. the origins of british computer arts 1950-80 [2008] 101-102)

For the catalogue of the show Reichardt edited a special issue of Studio International magazine, consisting of 100 pages with 300 images, publication of which coincided with the exhibition in 1968. The color frontispiece reproduced a color computer graphic by the American John C. Mott-Smith "made by time-lapse photography successively exposed through coloured filters, of an oscilloscope connected to a computer." The cover of the special issue was designed by the Polish-British painter, illustrator, film-maker, and stage designer Franciszka Themerson, incorporating computer graphics from the exhibition. Laid into copies of the special issue were 4 leaves entitled "Cybernetic Serendipity Music," each page providing a program for one of eight tapes of music played during the show. This information presumably was not available in time to be printed in the issue of Studio International.

Reichardt's Introduction  (p. 5) included the following:

"The exhibition is divided into three sections, and these sections are represented in the catalogue in a different order:

"1. Computer-generated graphics, computer-animated films, computer-composed and -played music, and computer poems and texts.

"2. Cybernetic devices as works of art, cybernetic enironments, remoted-control robots and painting machines.

"3. Machines demonstrating the uses of computers and an environment dealing with the history of cybernetics.

"Cybernetic Sernedipity deals with possibilites rather than achievements, and in this sense it is prematurely optimistic. There are no heroic claims to be made because computers have so far neither revolutionized music, nor art, nor poetry, the same way that they have revolutionized science.

"There are two main points which make this exhibition and this catalogue unusual in the contexts in which art exhibitions and catalogues are normally seen. The first is that no visitor to the exhibition, unless he reads all the notes relating to all the works, will know whether he is looking at something made by an artist, engineer, mathematician, or architect. Nor is it particularly important to know the background of all the makers of the various robots, machines and graphics- it will not alter their impact, although it might make us see them differently.

"The other point is more significant.

"New media, such as plastics, or new systems such as visual music notation and the parameters of concrete poetry, inevitably alter the shape of art, the characteristics of music, and content of poetry. New possibilities extend the range of expression of those creative poeple whom we identify as painters, film makers, composers and poets. It is very rare, however, that new media and new systems should bring in their wake new people to become involved in creative activity, be it composiing music drawing, constructing or writing.

"This has happened with the advent of computers. The engineers for whom the graphic plotter driven by a computer represented nothing more than a means of solving certain problems visually, have occasionally become so interested in the possibilities of this visual output, that they have started to make drawings which bear no practical application, and for which the only real motives are the desire to explore, and the sheer pelasure of seeing a drawing materialize. Thus people who would never have put pencil to paper, or brush to canvas, have started making images, both still and animated, which approximate and often look identical to what we call 'art' and put in public galleries.

"This is the most important single revelation of this exhibition." 

Some copies of the special issue were purchased by Motif Editions of London.  Those copies do not include the ICA logo on the upper cover and do not print the price of 25s. They also substitute two blanks for the two leaves of ads printed in the back of the regular issue. They do not include the separate 4 leaves of programs of computer music.  These special copies were sold by Motif Editions with a large  (75 x 52 cm) portfolio containing seven 30 x 20 inch color lithographs with a descriptive table of contents. The artists included Masao Komura/Makoto Ohtake/Koji Fujino (Computer Technique Group); Masao Komura/Kunio Yamanaka (Computer Technique Group); Maugham S. Mason, Boeing Computer Graphics; Kerry Starnd, Charles "Chuck" Csuri/James Shaffer & Donald K. Robbins/ The art works were titled respectively 'Running Cola is Africa', 'Return to Square', 'Maughanogram', 'Human Figure', 'The Snail', 'Random War' & '3D Checkerboard Pattern'.  Copies of the regular edition contained a full-page ad for the Motif Editions portfolio for sale at £5 plus postage or £1 plus postage for individual prints.

In 1969 Frederick A. Praeger Publishers of New York and Washington, DC issued a cloth-bound second edition of the Cybernetic Serendipity catalogue with a dust jacket design adapted from the original Studio International cover. It was priced $8.95. The American edition probably coincided with the exhibition of the material at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington. The Praeger edition included an index on p. 101, and no ads. Comparison of the text of the 1968 and 1969 editions shows that the 1969 edition contains numerous revisions and changes.

In 2005 Jasia Reichardt looked back on the exhibition with these comments:

"One of the journals dealing with the Computer and the Arts in the mid-sixties, was Computers and the Humanities. In September 1967, Leslie Mezei of the University of Toronto, opened his article on 'Computers and the Visual Arts' in the September issue, as follows: 'Although there is much interest in applying the computer to various areas of the visual arts, few real accomplishments have been recorded so far. Two of the causes for this lack of progress are technical difficulty of processing two-dimensional images and the complexity and expense of the equipment and the software. Still the current explosive growth in computer graphics and automatic picture processing technology are likely to have dramatic effects in this area in the next few years.' The development of picture processing technology took longer than Mezei had anticipated, partly because both the hardware and the software continued to be expensive. He also pointed out that most of the pictures in existence in 1967 were produced mainly as a hobby and he discussed the work of Michael Noll, Charles Csuri, Jack Citron, Frieder Nake, Georg Nees, and H.P. Paterson. All these names are familiar to us today as the pioneers of computer art history. Mezei himself too was a computer artist and produced series of images using maple leaf design and other national Canadian themes. Most of the computer art in 1967 was made with mechanical computer plotters, on CRT displays with a light pen or from scanned photographs. Mathematical equations that produced curves, lines or dots, and techniques to introduce randomness, all played their part in those early pictures. Art made with these techniques was instantaneously recognisable as having been produced either by mechanical means or with a program. It didn't actually look as if it had been done by hand. Then, and even now, most art made with the computer carries an indelible computer signature. The possibility of computer poetry and art was first mentioned in 1949. By the beginning of the 1950s it was a topic of conversation at universities and scientific establishments, and by the time computer graphics arrived on the scene, the artists were scientists, engineers, architects. Computer graphics were exhibited for the first time in 1965 in Germany and in America. 1965 was also the year when plans were laid for a show that later came to be called 'Cybernetic Serendipity' and presented at the ICA in London in 1968. It was the first exhibition to attempt to demonstrate all aspects of computer-aided creative activity: art, music, poetry, dance, sculpture, animation. The principal idea was to examine the role of cybernetics in contemporary arts. The exhibition included robots, poetry, music and painting machines, as well as all sorts of works where chance was an important ingredient. It was an intellectual exercise that became a spectacular exhibition in the summer of 1968" (http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/exhibitions/serendipity/images/1/, accessed 06-16-2012). This website reproduces photographs of the actual exhibition and a poster printed for the show.

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David Gregg & James Russell Invent the Laserdisc 1969 – December 15, 1978

The Laserdisc (videodisc) was invented and originally called "Videodisk" using a transparent disc by David Paul Gregg in 1958, and by James Russell in 1965. It was enhanced by Philips Electronics in 1969 by using a videodisc in reflective mode. The purchaser of Gregg's patents, Music Corporation of America (MCA) and Philips first publically demonstated the videodisc in 1972.  They first made the technology available on the market in Atlanta, Georgia on December 15, 1978 with the MCA DiscoVision release of the 1975 thriller film Jaws.

Laserdisc technology later became the basis for compact discs (CDs).

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1970 – 1980

The First 3D Rendered Movie 1972

Screen capture of Ed Catmull's left hand - from the world's first ever 3D rendered movie created in 1972 by Ed Catmull and Fred Park.

Screen capture showing polygons used to model the surface of the hand.

In 1972 Edwin Catmull and Frederic Parke, students of Ivan Sutherland at the University of Utah, created the world's first 3D rendered movie, a 6.5 minute clip featuring an animated version of Ed's left hand, and the first CG physically modelled human face created by Fred Parke. The film shows how a mold was made of Ed's hand, on which polygons were very precisely drawn and measured. Then the data was traced by an analog computer. Probably the same data entry method was used for the face.

In 1976 the film was incorporated in the feature film Futureworld.

This video was rediscovered and uploaded to YouTube in September 2011:

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The First Major Film to Use 2D Digital Image Processing 1973

The science fiction /thriller film Westworld, written and directed by Michael Crichton, and produced by MGM Studios, Culver City, California in 1973 was the first major film to incorporate 2D digital image processing. It starred Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, and James Brolin.

"Westworld was the first feature film to use digital image processing. John Whitney, Jr. and Gary Demos at Information International, Inc. digitally processed motion picture photography to appear pixelized in order to portray the Gunslinger android's point of view. The approximately 2 minutes and 31 seconds worth of cinegraphic block portraiture was accomplished by color-separating (three basic color separations plus black mask) each frame of source 70 mm film images, scanning each of these elements to convert into rectangular blocks, then adding basic color according to the tone values developed. The resulting coarse pixel matrix was output back to film. The process was covered in the American Cinematographer article Behind the scenes of Westworld" (Wikipedia article on Westworld, accessed 03-08-2012).

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The First Major Film to Incorporate 3D Computer Generated Images 1976

The science fiction film Futureworld, a sequel to Westworld, produced by American International Pictures (AIP) in Los Angeles in 1976 was the first major feature film to incorporate 3D computer generated images (CGI).

Futureworld featured a computer-generated hand and face created by University of Utah graduate students Edwin Catmull and Fred Parke. "The animated hand was a digitized version of Edwin Catmull's left hand. The movie also used 2D digital compositing to materialize characters over a background" (Wikipedia article on Futureworld, accessed 03-13-2009).

♦ In May 2013 the 50 second sequence of Futureworld incorporating the CG hand and face was available from YouTube at this link.

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"Newsfront": Dramatizing the Transition from Newsreels to TV News 1978


Newsfront, a 1978 Australian drama film set between the years 1948 to 1956, staring Bill HunterWendy Hughes, and Bryan Brown and directed by Phillip Noyce, dramatized the lives and romances of makers of newsreels during the transition from newsreels to TV news. Written by David ElfickBob EllisPhilippe Mora, and Phillip Noyce, and incorporating much original newsreel footage, the film was shot on location in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. 

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Vol Libre: The First Fractal CGI Movie 1979 – 1980

Having read Benoît Mandelbrot's 1977 book, Fractals: Form, Chance and Dimension, which described geometry of natural rough rather than smooth shapes, Loren Carpenter created a two-minute color film called Vol Libre to showcase his software for rendering realistic mountains and landscapes using fractal geometry at a SIGGRAPH conference in 1980. This was the first application of fractals in a computer-generated imagery (CGI) film. Production of each frame of the film required about 20-40 minutes of computing time on a VAX-11/780 computer. Prior to this film realistic animation in films had to be done by hand, frame by frame.

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1980 – 1990

"Blade Runner" 1982

The 1982 science fiction film Blade Runnerstarring Harrison Ford and directed by Ridley Scott, loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, depicted a dreary, rainy, and polluted Los Angeles in 2019. In the film genetically manufactured, bioengineered biorobots called replicants—visually indistinguishable from adult humans—are used for dangerous and degrading work in Earth's "off-world colonies."  After a minor replicant uprising, replicants are banned on Earth; and specialist police units called "blade runners" are trained to hunt down and "retire" (kill) escaped replicants on Earth.

The film, which  became a cult classic for many reasons, including its unique sets, lighting, costumes and visual effects, is considered the last great science fiction film in which the special effects were produced entirely through analog, rather than digital or computer graphics methods, using elaborate model-making, multiple exposures, etc.

Scott's original director's cut of the film was first issued as a DVD in 1999. In 2007 the so-called "Final Cut" with a great deal of supplementary material, including three previous versions of the film, and a "definitive" documentary, even longer than the original film, was issued on DVD and Blu-ray. The documentary, and the collection of versions of the film, presented a superb opportunity to gain insight into way that Ridley Scott created a film.

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One of the First Films to Incorporate Computer Graphics 1982

Disney's 1982 movie Tron was one of the first films to incorporate computer graphics or computer animation, partly rendered on a Cray-1 Supercomputer, which also appeared in the film.

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The First Completely Computer-Generated (CGI) Cinematic Image Sequence in a Feature Film 1982

in 1982 George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), San Rafael, California, created the first completely computer-generated cinematic image (CGI) sequence in a feature film in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The sequence lasted sixty seconds. Prior to this film all animation in films had to be done by hand, frame by frame. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan nearly all the special visual effects were done by photographing models, or other analog methods. Only the one minute sequence applied computer graphics.

"The Wrath of Khan was one of the first films to extensively use electronic images and computer graphics to speed production of shots. Computer graphics company Evans & Sutherland produced the vector graphics displays aboard the Enterprise and the fields of stars used in the opening credits. Among ILM's technical achievements was cinema's first entirely computer-generated sequence: the demonstration of the effects of the Genesis Device on a barren planet. The first concept for the shot took the form of a laboratory demonstration, where a rock would be placed in a chamber and turned into a flower. [Effects supervisor Jim] Veilleux suggested the sequence's scope be expanded to show the Genesis effect taking over a planet. While Paramount appreciated the more dramatic presentation, they also wanted the simulation to be more impressive than traditional animation. . . ." (Wikipedia article on Start Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, accessed 03-12-2012).

The "genesis effect" scene of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan featured an entire fractally-landscaped planet produced by Loren Carpenter. Prior to developing this fractally-landscaped planet Carpenter had created the first realistic computer-generated film using fractal geometry— the two-minute short, Vol Libri. The Director's Edition DVD version of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan issued in 2002 contained as part of its special features on disc 2 a discussion of the Visual Effects of the film.  In this the computer graphics aspect was only briefly mentioned; nearly all of the content concerned analog devices such as photographing models.

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"The Last Starfighter": One of the First Films to Make Extensive Use of Computer Graphic Imagery 1984

The Last Starfighter, a 1984 science fiction adventure film directed by Nick Castle, was one of the earliest films to make extensive use of computer graphics for its special effects. In place of physical models, 3D rendered models were used to depict space ships and many other objects. The Gunstar and other spaceships in the film were the design of artist Ron Cobb, who also worked on AlienStar Wars and Conan the Barbarian.

The computer graphics were rendered by Digital Productions on a Cray X-MP supercomputer. The company created 27 minutes of effects for the film— considered an enormous amount of computer generated imagery at the time. For the 300 scenes containing computer graphics each frame of animation contained an average of 250,000 polygons, with a resolution of 3000 × 5000 36-bit pixels. Digital Productions estimated that using computer animation required only half the time, and one-half to one-third the cost of traditional special effects. 

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The First Fully Computer-Generated Character in a Film 1985

In 1985 the film Young Sherlock Holmes, produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, directed by Barry Levinson and written by Chris Columbus, included the first fully computer-generated (CGI) character, a knight composed of elements from a stained glass window. The effect was created by John Lasseter at Lucasfilm Computer Graphics before George Lucas sold that division to Steve Jobs in 1986, and it became Pixar Animation Studios.

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Probably the Best Book History and Library Film Set in the Middle Ages 1986

The Name of the Rose, a 1986 German-French-Italian film made in English based on the novel by Umberto Eco, was directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, and starred Sean Connery and Christian Slater. Exterior sets were built outside of Rome; most interior scenes were filmed in Eberbach Abbey, Eltville am Rhein, Germany. Production was by Constantin Film, Frankfurt, Germany.

Though the film enjoyed good sales in Europe, it was a financial flop in the U.S where interest in medieval culture is more limited. In my opinion this film is an excellent adaptation of the novel even though the inevitable simplication of the story line was necessary. It may be the best book history and library film set in the Middle Ages. It was later issued on DVD and Blu-ray with a fascinating commentary by the director.

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"Slow Fires: On the Preservation of the Human Record" 1987

In 1987 American filmaker Terry Sanders, the American Film Foundation, and the Council on Library and Information Resources, issued Slow Fires: On the Preservation of the Human Record, a film narrated by Robert McNeil. The AFF characterized the film as:

"The unforgettable story of the deterioration and destruction of our world’s intellectual heritage and the global crisis in preserving library materials. . . .

"Millions of pages of paper in books, photographs, drawings and maps are disintegrating and turning to dust. This remarkable film provides a comprehensive assessment of the worldwide situation, demonstrates methods of restoration and preservation and suggests ways to prevent new documents from facing ultimate destruction".

In December 2013 the film could be purchased from the American Film Foundation's website on DVD, in 33 and 58 minute versions.

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The First Computer-Animated Film to Win an Academy Award 1988

In 1988 Tin Toy by Pixar, Emeryville, California, became the first computer-animated film to win an Academy Award, for the "best animated short film."

"Tin Toy marked the first time a character with life-like bendable arms and knees, surfaces and facial components was animated digitally. The challenge was balancing it's 'cartoony' look with a baby's real looks."

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Invention of "Buffered Media," the Basis for Webcasting 1989

In 1989 Brian Raila of GTE Laboratories recognized that a viewer or listener did not need to download the entirety of a program to view or listen to a portion of it, as long as the receiving device ("client computer") could, over time, receive and present data more rapidly than the user could digest the data. At the InterTainment '89 conference held in New York City Raila used the term "buffered media" to describe this concept. It became the basis for "webcasting."

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The First Film to Win an Academy Award for Computer Generated Images 1989

In 1989 The Abyss, a science fiction film written and directed by James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment, Santa Monica, California, featuring complex computer generated images (CGI)—most notably a seawater creature dubbed the pseudopod—became the first film to win the Academy Award for Visual Effects produced through CGI. The pseudopod was the first computer generated three-dimensional (3D) character.

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1990 – 2000

TED: Technology, Entertainment and Design 1990

After a one-off event in 1984, annual TED conferences begain in 1990 in Monterey, California.  In 2012 the events were held in Long Beach and Palm Springs in the U.S. and in Europe and Asia, offering live streaming video of the talks on the Internet. The TED organization is based in New York City and Vancouver.

TED speakers are given a maximum of 18 minutes to present their material in the most exciting and engaging way that they can, often through storytelling.

"Since June 2006 the talks have been offered for free viewing online, under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons license, through TED.com. As of November 2011, over 1,050 talks are available free online. By January 2009 they had been viewed 50 million times. In June 2011, the viewing figure stood at more than 500 million, and on Tuesday November 13, 2012, TED Talks had been watched one billion times worldwide, reflecting a still growing global audience."

"TED was conceived by architect and graphic designer Richard Saul Wurman, who observed a convergence of the fields of technology, entertainment and design. The first conference, organized by Wurman and Harry Marks in 1984, featured demos of the Sony compact disc, and one of the first demonstrations of the Apple Macintosh computer. Presentations were given by famous mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot and influential members of the digerati community, like Nicholas Negroponte and Stewart Brand. The event was financially unsuccessful, however, and it took 6 years before the second conference was organized. From 1990 onward, a growing community of "TEDsters" has been gathering annually at the invitation-only event in Monterey, California, until 2009, when it was relocated to Long Beach, California due to a substantial increase of attendees" (Wikipedia article on Ted (conference), accessed 12-26-2012).

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The First Partially Computer-Generated Main Character 1991

The T-1000 cyborg as played by Robert Parker.

The T-1000 in its default (metalic) form.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a 1991 science fiction action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, directed by James Cameron and written by Cameron and William Wisher, Jr., included included the first use of natural human motion for a computer-generated character, and the first partially computer-generated main character.

"Terminator 2 was the first mainstream blockbuster movie with multiple morphing effects and simulated natural human motion and realistic movements for a major CG character. It was the first film to use 'personal' computers to create its special effects. 

"The lethal, liquid-metal, chrome T-1000 cyborg terminator (Robert Patrick) was the first [partially] computer graphic-generated main character to be used in a film. This was the first major instance of a CG character in a film since Young Sherlock Holmes (1985). He was capable of 'morphing' into any person or object. The liquifying-solidifying robot's humanoid texture was layered onto a CG model to create the effect. Over 300 special effects shots made up 16 minutes of the film's running time.  

"The seemingly-indestructible Terminator android composed of morphing liquid metal was a killing, shape-shifting terminator with no emotional intelligence, usually exemplified as a policeman. The sleek, modern android was composed of poly-mimetic metal, meaning it could take on the shape, color, and texture of anything it touched (such as a porcelain-tiled floor or metal bars), and could also mimic human behavior, such as imitating the voices of its victims. It could transform its hands into jaw-like blades for impalement, and completely absorb shotgun blasts to its midsection or head. After a fiery big-rig crash in the LA flood channel, the T-1000 walked unscathed out of the flames - revealing his metallic frame before reverting back to humanoid form. In another remarkable scene, the T-1000 was shattered into pieces, but then the pieces reassembled themselves" (http://www.filmsite.org/visualeffects14.html, accessed 05-01-2013).

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Jurassic Park, the First Film to Integrate CGI and Animatronic figures into Live Action Scenes 1993

In 1993 Steven Spielberg directed the science fiction techno-thriller film Jurassic Park, based on the novel by Michael Crichton, and adapted by Crichton for the screen. It was produced by Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, Universal City, California. With gross sales of $914,000,000 when released, Jurassic Park was also among the highest-grossing and most profitable films ever made.

The plot of Jurassic Park centered around the possibility of re-creating dinosaurs by

"cloning genetic material found in mosquitoes that fed on dinosaur blood, preserved in Dominican amber. The DNA from these samples was spliced with DNA from frogs to fill in sequence gaps. Only female dinosaurs are created in order to prevent uncontrolled breeding within the park" (Wikipedia article on Jurassic Park [film], accessed 05-25-2009)

This was the first film to integrate computer generated images and animatronic dinosaurs seemlessly into live action scenes.

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The Beginning of Video Webcasting over the Internet June 1993

In June 1993 Alan Saperstein of Visual Data Corporation (later Onstream Media) introduced streaming video with HotelView, a travel library of 2 minute videos featuring thousands of hotel properties worldwide. This was the beginning of video webcasting over the Internet.

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"Johnny Mnemonic": The First Film to Portray a Graphic Vision of Cyberspace June 1995

The science fiction cyberpunk action film Johnny Mnemonic, released in June 1995, was the first major motion picture to portray a graphic vision of cyberspace or the Internet. Loosely based on the short story "Johnny Mnemonic" by William Gibson, it was directed by Robert Longo, and starred Keanu ReevesDolph LundgrenTakeshiIce-T and Dina Meyer. Its graphic sequences were the first full-frame 35mm effects to be completed using IBM-compatible hardware.

Regardless of the questionable acting and primitive computer graphics, Johnny Mnemonic introduced a compelling idea: the use of hand gestures or object manipulation to gain access to information. This we did not see again until the 2002 film Minority ReportThe main character must properly manipulate a segmented pyramidal shape in order to gain access to a certain file. He twists the segments in a certain order as one manipulates a Pyraminx (a triangular version of the Rubik's Cube) until the proper sequence is performed.

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The First Full-Time Online Webcam Girl April 1996 – 2003

In April 1996, during her junior year at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Internet personality and lifecaster Jennifer Ringley began the popular website, JenniCam. She was the first real full time online webcam girl.

"Previously, live webcams transmitted static shots from cameras aimed through windows or at coffee pots. Ringley's innovation was simply to allow others to view her daily activities.

"In June 2008, CNET hailed JenniCam as one of the greatest defunct websites in history.

"Regarded by some as a conceptual artist, Ringley viewed her site as a straight-forward document of her life. She did not wish to filter the events that were shown on her camera, so sometimes she was shown nude or engaging in sexual behavior, including sexual intercourse and masturbation. This was a new use of Internet technology in 1996 and viewers were stimulated both for its sociological implications and for sexual arousal. Surveillance became conceptual art, as noted by Mark Tribe in 'New Media Art':

In Web sites like JenniCAM, in which a young woman installed Web cameras in her home to expose her everyday actions to online viewers. . . surveillance became a source of voyeuristic and exhibitionistic excitement. . . Institutional surveillance and the invasion of privacy have been widely explored by New Media artists.'

"Ringley's genuine desires to maintain the purity of the cam-eye view of her life eventually created the need to establish that she was within her rights as an adult to broadcast such information, in the legal sense, and that it was not harmful to other adults. Unlike later for-profit webcam services, Ringley did not spend her day displaying her private parts, and she spent much more time discussing her romantic life than she did her sex life. Ringley maintained her webcam site for seven years" (Wikipedia article on Jennifer Ringley, accessed 05-08-2009).

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DVDs are Introduced September 1996 – March 1997

In September 1996 DVD specification 1.0 (Digital Video Disc) was finalized. The capacity of the original single-sided, single layer DVD-1 was 1.46 gigabytes. The first DVD players and discs were available in November 1996 in Japan, and in March 1997 in the United States.

The first movie commercially released on DVD was Twister.

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"You've Got Mail", a Movie about Love, Email, and the Book Trade 1998

You've Got Mail, an American romantic comedy film set in New York City starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, was released by Warner Brothers in 1998. The film dramatized a romantic relationship that develops over email, featuring AOL's "You've got mail" slogan in product placement. Paralleling this film about computers and society was the film's subplot of the forced closure of a small independent bookshop by competition from a big-box chain bookstore — thus You've Got Mail was not only a film about computers and romance, but also a commentary about the changing face of the book trade.

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On the Preservation of Knowledge in the Electronic Age 1998

In 1998 American filmaker Terry Sanders, the American Film Foundation, the Council on Library and Information Resources, and the American Council of Learned Societies issued Into the Future: On the Preservation of Knowledge in the Electronic Age.

This film, narratived by Robert McNeil, was a sequel to Slow Fires (1987). It "explores the hidden crisis of the digital information age. Will digitally stored information and knowledge survive into the future? Will humans twenty, fifty, one hundred years from now have access to the electronically recorded history of our time?" (from the American Film Foundation blurb; it was available in 33 and 58 minute versions on July 28, 2009). The film included interviews with Peter Norton and Tim Berners-Lee.

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The Matrix: Referencing Cyberpunk and Hacker Cultures 1999

The Matrix, a 1999 science fiction-martial arts-action film,

"describes a future in which reality perceived by humans is actually the Matrix: a simulated reality created by sentient machines in order to pacify and subdue the human population while their bodies' heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. Upon learning this, computer programmer "Neo" is drawn into a rebellion against the machines. The film contains many references to the cyberpunk and hacker subcultures; philosophical and religious ideas; and homages to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Hong Kong action cinema, Spaghetti Westerns, and Japanese animation" (Wikipedia article on The Matrix, accessed 12-23-2008).

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2000 – 2005

The Film: "A. I. Artificial Intelligence" 2001

Steven Spielberg

The movie poster for A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Stanley Kubrick

In 2001 American director, screen writer and film producer Steven Spielberg directed, co-authored and produced, through DreamWorks and Amblin Entertainment, the science fiction film A.I. Artificial Intelligence, telling the story of David, an android robot child programmed with the ability to love and to dream. The film explored the hopes and fears involved with efforts to simulate human thought processes, and the social consequences of creating robots that may be better than people at specialized tasks.

The film was a 1970s project of Stanley Kubrick, who eventually turned it over to Spielberg. The project languished in development hell for nearly three decades before technology advanced sufficiently for a successful production. The film required enormously complex puppetry, computer graphics, and make-up prosthetics, which are well-described and explained in the supplementary material in the two-disc special edition of the film issued on DVD in 2002.

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The First Attempt to Make a Photorealistic Computer Animated 3D Feature Film July 11, 2001

Hironobu Sakaguchi

Final Fantasy game logo

Square Company, Ltd Logo

Final Fantasy movie poster

On July 11, 2001 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, a computer animated (CGI) science fiction film by Japanese game designer, game director and game producer Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the Final Fantasy series of role-playing games, was released in the United States by Columbia Pictures. This film, produced by Square Pictures, Honolulu, Hawaii, was the first attempt to make a photorealistic rendered 3D feature film.

"Square Pictures rendered the film using some of the most advanced processing capabilities available for film animating at the time. A render farm consisting of 960 workstations was tasked with rendering each of the film's 141,964 frames. It took a staff of 200 and some four years to complete the film. Square intended to make the character of Aki Ross into the world's first photorealistic computer-animated actress, with plans for appearances in multiple films in different roles. 

"The Spirits Within debuted to mixed critical reception, but was widely praised for the realism of the computer-animated characters. Due to rising costs, the film greatly exceeded its original budget towards the end of production, reaching a final cost of US$137 million, of which it made back only $85 million at the box office. The film has been called a box office bomb, and is blamed for the demise of Square Pictures" (Wikipedia article on Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, accessed 03-23-2012).

"Roger Ebert was a strong advocate of the film; he gave the film 3 1/2 stars out of 4, praising it as a "technical milestone" while conceding that its 'nuts and bolts' story lacked 'the intelligence and daring of, say, Steven Spielberg's A.I.'. He also expressed a desire for the film to succeed in hopes of seeing more films made in its image, though he was skeptical of its ability to be accepted" (Wikipedia article on Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, accessed 05-05-2009).

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The First 3G Cellular Network October 1, 2001

The DoCoMo logo

The Sanno Park Tower

A large pile of Docomodake merchandise. Docomodake is the mascot of NTT DoCoMo and is a very popular character in Japan

On October 1, 2001 NTT DoCoMo of Tokyo, Japan, launched the first 3G (Third Generation) cellular network.

"3G networks enable network operators to offer users a wider range of more advanced services while achieving greater network capacity through improved spectral efficiency. Services include wide-area wireless voice telephony, video calls, and broadband wireless data, all in a mobile environment. Additional features also include HSPA data transmission capabilities able to deliver speeds up to 14.4 Mbit/s on the downlink and 5.8 Mbit/s on the uplink" (Wikipedia article on 3G, accessed 04-11-2009).

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"Minority Report": The Movie 2002

Steven Spielberg

The movie poster for Minority Report

The cover art for Minority Report by Philip Dick

Philip Dick

Steven Spielberg directed the science fiction 2002 film Minority Report, loosely based on the short story, "The Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick.

"It is set primarily in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia in the year 2054, where "Precrime", a specialized police department, apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics called 'precogs'. The cast includes Tom Cruise as Precrime officer John Anderton, Colin Farrell as Department of Justice agent Danny Witwer, Samantha Morton as the senior precog Agatha, and Max von Sydow as Anderton's superior Lamar Burgess. The film has a distinctive look, featuring desaturated colors that make it almost resemble a black-and-white film, yet the blacks and shadows have a high contrast, resembling film noir."

"Some of the technologies depicted in the film were later developed in the real world – for example, multi-touch interfaces are similar to the glove-controlled interface used by Anderton. Conversely, while arguing against the lack of physical contact in touch screen phones, PC Magazine's Sascha Segan argued in February 2009, 'This is one of the reasons why we don't yet have the famous Minority Report information interface. In that movie, Tom Cruise donned special gloves to interact with an awesome PC interface where you literally grab windows and toss them around the screen. But that interface is impractical without the proper feedback—without actually being able to feel where the edges of the windows are' " (Wikipedia article on Minority Report [film] accessed 05-25-2009).

The two-disc special edition of the film issued on DVD in 2002 contained excellent supplementary material on the special digital effects.

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Machinima is Founded 2002

Paul Marino

In 2002 Paul Marino founded the Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences in New York.

"So, what is Machinima?

"Machinima (muh-sheen-eh-mah) is filmmaking within a real-time, 3D virtual environment, often using 3D video-game technologies. 

"In an expanded definition, it is the convergence of filmmaking, animation and game development. Machinima is real-world filmmaking techniques applied within an interactive virtual space where characters and events can be either controlled by humans, scripts or artificial intelligence. By combining the techniques of filmmaking, animation production and the technology of real-time 3D game engines, Machinima makes for a very cost- and time-efficient way to produce films, with a large amount of creative control" 

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Apple Opens the iTunes Store April 28, 2003

The iTunes interface

The iTunes logo

On April 28, 2003 Apple opened the software based, online iTunes Store.

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2005 – 2010

"Broadcast Yourself" : YouTube is Founded February 2005

The YouTube logo

Steven Chen

Chad Hurley

Jawed Karim

In February 2005 three former employees of Paypal — Steven Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim — founded the video sharing website, YouTube.  Its first headquarters were above a pizzeria and Japanese restaurant in San Mateo, California. Most of the content on YouTube is uploaded by individuals, but media corporations including CBS, the BBCVevoHulu, and other organizations offer some of their material via YouTube, as part of the YouTube partnership program.

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The First Video is Uploaded to YouTube April 23, 2005

A screen shot from the first video uploaded to YouTube

The first video uploaded to YouTube—on April 23, 2005— was shot by Yakov Lapitsky at the San Diego Zoo. It showed co-founder Jawed Karim in front of the elephant enclosure "going on about long trunks."

By Feburary 2011 this brief video had been viewed 4,282,497 times. 

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Disney Acquires Pixar January 24, 2006

The Pixar version of the Disney logo, used in Pixar movies

The Pixar logo, including a number of popular Pixar characters

Steve Jobs

The Walt Disney Company, born in the days of manual animation, acquired Pixar, the computer animation company, making Steve Jobs the largest Disney stockholder.

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The Most Viewed Video on YouTube as of 2009 April 2006 – May 9, 2009

Judson Laipply

American motivational speaker, inspirational comedian, and dancer Judson Laipply from Bucyrus, Ohio, posted the video clip Evolution of Dance on YouTube.

By May 9, 2009 the video had been viewed 119,378,381 times.  AT this date it was the Most Viewed (All Time) Video, the Most Favorited (All Time) Video, and the eighth Most Discussed (All Time) Video on YouTube.

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The Biggest Music Retailer in the World: Apple's iTune Store April 23, 2006

On April 23, 2006 Apple's iTunes Store was acknowledged as the biggest music retailer in the world, able to dictate its 99 cent per track retail price to music wholesalers.

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Molecular Animation July 30 – August 3, 2006

At Siggraph2006, held in Boston, Massachusetts from July 30 to August 3, 2006, BioVisions, a scientific visualization program at Harvard’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Xvivo, a Connecticut-based scientific animation company, introduced the three-minute molecular animation video, The Inner Life of the Cell.

The film depicted marauding white blood cells attacking infections in the body. 




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Google Buys YouTube November 6, 2006

Youtube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen

On November 6, 2006 Google completed the purchase of YouTube for $1.65 billion in Google stock. Youtube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen posted a video to YouTube about the purchase.


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Yahoo and Reuters Found "YouWitnessNews" December 5, 2006

The Reuters logo

The You Witness News logo

On December 5, 2006 Yahoo and Reuters introduced programs to place photographs and videos of news events submitted by the public, including cell phone photos and videos, throughout Reuters.com and Yahoo's new service entitled YouWitnessNews. Reuters said that it in 2007 would also start to distribute some of the submissions to the thousands of print, online and broadcast media outlets that subscribed to its news service. Reuters also said that it hoped to develop a service devoted entirely to user-submitted photographs and video.

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Drama in the Context of a Telephone Exchange (1928) 2008

In Changeling, an American historical drama film set in Los Angeles in 1928, the central figure played by Angelina Jolie worked as a supervisor in a telephone exchange, then a manual operation. In the film the operation of the exchange appeared to be accurately depicted. Based on a true story, the drama focussed on police corruption and the covering up of police incompetence in the context of heart-wrenching child abductions and murders. It was produced and directed by Clint Eastwood, written by J. Michael Straczynski, and starred Angelina Jolie and John Malkovich. It was introduced in 2008.

"Later exchanges consisted of one to several hundred plug boards staffed by telephone operators. Each operator sat in front of a vertical panel containing banks of ¼-inch tip-ring-sleeve (5-conductor) jacks, each of which was the local termination of a subscriber's telephone line. In front of the jack panel lay a horizontal panel containing two rows of patch cords, each pair connected to a cord circuit. When a calling party lifted the receiver, a signal lamp near the jack would light. The operator would plug one of the cords (the "answering cord") into the subscriber's jack and switch her headset into the circuit to ask, "number please?" Depending upon the answer, the operator might plug the other cord of the pair (the "ringing cord") into the called party's local jack and start the ringing cycle, or plug into a trunk circuit to start what might be a long distance call handled by subsequent operators in another bank of boards or in another building miles away. In 1918, the average time to complete the connection for a long-distance call was 15 minutes. In the ringdown method, the originating operator called another intermediate operator who would call the called subscriber, or passed it on to another intermediate operator. This chain of intermediate operators could complete the call only if intermediate trunk lines were available between all the centers at the same time. In 1943 when military calls had priority, a cross-country US call might take as long as 2 hours to request and schedule in cities that used manual switchboards for toll calls" (Wikipedia article on Telephone exchange, accessed 04-26-2009).

(This entry was last revised on 04-30-2014.)

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"From Book Fluency to Screen Fluency, from Literacy to Visuality" November 21, 2008

On November 21, 2008 Kevin Kelly of Pacifica, California, published an article in The New York Times Magazine entitled "Becoming Screen Literate," arguing that literacy was undergoing a paradigm shift from "book fluency to screen fluency." Summarizing historical developments in the book that led to what he called "book fluency," Kelly argued that digital tools making authorship of films accessible to everyone, were changing the nature of both production of films, and scholarship about films, much as they changed the nature of authorship and scholarship of books. Sections are quoted below:

"When technology shifts, it bends the culture. Once, long ago, culture revolved around the spoken word. The oral skills of memorization, recitation and rhetoric instilled in societies a reverence for the past, the ambiguous, the ornate and the subjective. Then, about 500 years ago, orality was overthrown by technology. Gutenberg’s invention of metallic movable type elevated writing into a central position in the culture. By the means of cheap and perfect copies, text became the engine of change and the foundation of stability. From printing came journalism, science and the mathematics of libraries and law. The distribution-and-display device that we call printing instilled in society a reverence for precision (of black ink on white paper), an appreciation for linear logic (in a sentence), a passion for objectivity (of printed fact) and an allegiance to authority (via authors), whose truth was as fixed and final as a book. In the West, we became people of the book.

"Now invention is again overthrowing the dominant media. A new distribution-and-display technology is nudging the book aside and catapulting images, and especially moving images, to the center of the culture. We are becoming people of the screen. The fluid and fleeting symbols on a screen pull us away from the classical notions of monumental authors and authority. On the screen, the subjective again trumps the objective. The past is a rush of data streams cut and rearranged into a new mashup, while truth is something you assemble yourself on your own screen as you jump from link to link. We are now in the middle of a second Gutenberg shift — from book fluency to screen fluency, from literacy to visuality.

"The overthrow of the book would have happened long ago but for the great user asymmetry inherent in all media. It is easier to read a book than to write one; easier to listen to a song than to compose one; easier to attend a play than to produce one. But movies in particular suffer from this user asymmetry. The intensely collaborative work needed to coddle chemically treated film and paste together its strips into movies meant that it was vastly easier to watch a movie than to make one. A Hollywood blockbuster can take a million person-hours to produce and only two hours to consume. But now, cheap and universal tools of creation (megapixel phone cameras, Photoshop, iMovie) are quickly reducing the effort needed to create moving images. To the utter bafflement of the experts who confidently claimed that viewers would never rise from their reclining passivity, tens of millions of people have in recent years spent uncountable hours making movies of their own design. Having a ready and reachable audience of potential millions helps, as does the choice of multiple modes in which to create. Because of new consumer gadgets, community training, peer encouragement and fiendishly clever software, the ease of making video now approaches the ease of writing.

"But merely producing movies with ease is not enough for screen fluency, just as producing books with ease on Gutenberg’s press did not fully unleash text. Literacy also required a long list of innovations and techniques that permit ordinary readers and writers to manipulate text in ways that make it useful. For instance, quotation symbols make it simple to indicate where one has borrowed text from another writer. Once you have a large document, you need a table of contents to find your way through it. That requires page numbers. Somebody invented them (in the 13th century). Longer texts require an alphabetic index, devised by the Greeks and later developed for libraries of books. Footnotes, invented in about the 12th century, allow tangential information to be displayed outside the linear argument of the main text. And bibliographic citations (invented in the mid-1500s) enable scholars and skeptics to systematically consult sources. These days, of course, we have hyperlinks, which connect one piece of text to another, and tags, which categorize a selected word or phrase for later sorting.

"All these inventions (and more) permit any literate person to cut and paste ideas, annotate them with her own thoughts, link them to related ideas, search through vast libraries of work, browse subjects quickly, resequence texts, refind material, quote experts and sample bits of beloved artists. These tools, more than just reading, are the foundations of literacy."


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The First Collaborative Online Orchestra April 15, 2009

On April 15, 2009 the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of San Francisco Symphony conductor, Michael Tilson Thomas, debuted at Carnegie Hall in New York. Considered the first collaborative online orchestra, promoted on YouTube, auditioned entirely through YouTube videos, and sponsored by Google, the owner of YouTube,

"The YouTube Symphony Orchestra's show features soloists, chamber groups, chamber orchestra, large orchestra, electronica and multi-media, and samples diverse periods and styles of classical music, including works by Gabrieli, Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Villa-Lobos, John Cage and Tan Dun’s Internet Symphony No. 1 'Eroica.'

"It could be described as something between a summit conference, scout jamboree or musical get-together. It'll be the first time that people from so many different countries will have had a chance to discover one another online and then actually meet up and make music together." - Michael Tilson Thomas on NPR’s All Things Considered" (Carnegie Hall website, accessed 04-11-2009).

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Using YouTube Videos to Study the Origins of Music in Societies April 30, 2009

On April 30, 2009 psychologist Adena Schachner of Harvard University and co-authors published "Spontaneous Motor Entrainment to Music in Multiple Vocal Mimicking Species," Current Biology (30 April 2009).

Basing their research on the examination of more than 1000 YouTube videos of dancing animals, the researchers found 14 parrot species and one elephant genunely capable of keeping time, showing that "an ability to appreciate music and keep a rhythm is not unique to humans.

"Schachner analyzed the videos frame-by-frame, comparing the animals' movements with the speed of the music and the alignment of individual beats. The group also studied another bird, Alex, an African grey parrot, which had exhibited similar abilities to Snowball, nodding its head appreciatively to a series of drum tracks.

" 'Our analyses showed that these birds' movements were more lined up with the musical beat than we'd expect by chance,' says Schachner. 'We found strong evidence that they were synchronizing with the beat, something that has not been seen before in other species.' 

"Aniruddh Patel of The Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, who led another study of Snowball's performance, said that the bird had demonstrated an ability to adjust the tempo of his dancing to stay synchronized to the beat.

"Scientists had previously thought that 'moving to a musical beat might be a uniquely human ability because animals are not commonly seen moving rhythmically in the wild,' Patel said.

"Schachner said there was no evidence to suggest that animals such as apes, dogs or cats could recognize music, despite their extensive experience of humans. That leads researchers to believe that an ability to process musical sounds may be linked to an ability to mimic sounds -- something that each of the parrots studied by researchers was able to do excellently, she said.

"Other 'vocal-learning species' include dolphins, elephants, seals and walruses.

" 'A natural question about these results is whether they generalize to other parrots, or more broadly, to other vocal-learning species,' Schachner said.

"Researchers believe a possible link between vocal mimicry and an ability to hear music may explain the development of music in human societies. advertisement

" 'The question of why music is found in every known human culture is a longstanding puzzle. Many argue that it is an adaptive behaviour that helped our species to evolve. But equally plausible is the possibility that it emerged as a by-product of other abilities -- such as vocal learning,' music psychologist Lauren Stewart of Goldsmiths, University of London told CNN.

" 'Parrots and humans both have the ability to imitate sounds that they hear, unlike our closer simian relatives. Once a species has the neural machinery in place for coupling the perception and production of vocal sounds, it may be only a small step to use the same circuits for synchronizing movements to a beat.' " (http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/05/01/dancing.parrots/?iref=hpmostpop#cnnSTCText )

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Convergence of Media: Packaging Blu-ray Discs in Books December 2009

Among the numerous things I collect are DVDs and high-definition Blu-ray Discs. Toward the end of 2009 I noticed that certain classic films were being re-issued as Blu-ray discs packaged in the back of short hardcover books concerning the films. These were not books that happened to include a disc as supplementary material. In those cases the electronic data is often secondary to the physical book. What I bought was the Blu-ray disc, packaged inside a full color book of 30 to 50 pages that was issued in the same size as the normal plastic Blu-ray clamshell boxes. The book is clearly secondary to the data—an excellent informative way of packaging and storing the data.

Two Blu-ray discs that I purchased in December 2009 packaged in hardcover books were Robert Redford's film, A River Runs Through It, based on the elegantly written novella by Norman Maclean, and the 50th Anniversary edition of Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest. The back of each book contains a thick plastic insert attached to the inside of the rear cover to protect the disc. Both books contain full-color content that is well-presented and informative.

Why do I include these details in this database? To me, selling Blu-ray discs inside a book represents a notable physical example of the convergence of the book and electronic media. To a book collector this format is also superior and of greater interest than the standard Blu-ray plastic clamshell box. 

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The Film "Avatar" and Visions of Reality, Virtual and Otherwise December 10, 2009

Avatar, an American science fiction epic film written and directed by film director, producer, screenwriter, editor, and inventor James Cameron, and starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez and Stephen Lang, was first released in London On December 10, 2009 by Twentieth Century Fox, headquartered in Century City, Los Angeles.

"The film is set in the year 2154 on Pandora, a moon in the Alpha Centauri star system. Humans are engaged in mining Pandora's reserves of a precious mineral, while the Na'vi—a race of indigenous humanoids—resist the colonists' expansion, which threatens the continued existence of the Na'vi and the Pandoran ecosystem. The film's title refers to the genetically engineered bodies used by the film's characters to interact with the Na'vi.

"Avatar had been in development since 1994 by Cameron, who wrote an 80-page scriptment for the film. Filming was supposed to take place after the completion of Titanic, and the film would have been released in 1999, but according to Cameron, 'technology needed to catch up' with his vision of the film. In early 2006, Cameron developed the script, as well as the language and culture of the Na'vi. He said sequels would be possible if Avatar was successful, and in response to the film's success, confirmed that there will be another two.

"The film was released in traditional 2-D, as well as 3-D, RealD 3D, Dolby 3D, and IMAX 3D formats. Avatar is officially budgeted at $237 million; other estimates put the cost at $280–310 million to produce and $150 million for marketing. The film is being touted as a breakthrough in terms of filmmaking technology, for its development of 3D viewing and stereoscopic filmmaking with cameras that were specially designed for the film's production.

"Avatar premiered in London, UK on December 10, 2009, and was released on December 18, 2009 in the US and Canada to critical acclaim and commercial success. It grossed $27 million on its opening day domestically (in the United States and Canada) and $77 million domestically on its opening weekend. It opened two days earlier internationally and grossed $232 million worldwide in its first five days of international release. Within three weeks of its release, with a worldwide gross of over $1 billion, Avatar became the second highest-grossing film of all time worldwide, exceeded only by Cameron's previous film, Titanic" (Wikipedia article on Avatar (2009 film), accessed 01-16-2010).

♦ From my perspective the most significant aspect of Avatar, apart from its breathtaking computer graphic animation, and the fascinating artificial culture and language of the Na'vi, was the convincing portrayal of a total virtual reality experience, and the interplay between virtual reality, the reality of earth-born humans, some of whom animated the avatars, and the different reality of the Na'vi. The film presented visions of a reality that I could not have imagined before viewing. In its presentation of new views of reality it is reminiscent of the 1982 film, Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott.

Another aspect of the film that was highly timely was its depiction of the struggle between destructive exploitation of natural resources versus living in harmony with nature.

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2010 – 2012

"The Social Network": The Origins of Facebook October 1, 2010

In October 2010 he drama film, The Social Network, based on the book, The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal, by Ben Mezrich, was released by Columbia Pictures.

The book was adapted for the screen by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher. Jesse Eisenberg portrayed the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, to considerable critical acclaim.

Zuckerberg has been widely acknowledged as a programming prodigy. The film portrays him not only in that way, but as so focused on programming, and so insensitive to other people's feelings as to be almost autistic. One can hardly imagine that anyone as overly focused on programming as Zuckerberg is portrayed in the film could have understood the social nuances sufficiently to build it into the world's top social media site. The Wikipedia article on Zuckerberg indicates that he is more well-rounded than characterized in the film, having a strong background in classics and fond of quoting from Greek and Latin literature, especially epic poetry. 

♦ On January 30, 2010 Jesse Eisenberg and Mark Zuckerberg briefly appeared together on Saturday Night Live: 

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The First Independently Published Magazine Exclusively for the iPad January 2011

London-based Remi Paringaux and his company, Meri Media, published the first issue of Post, the first independent magazine published exclusively for the iPad. It was offered for sale as an iPad app for $2.99.  

The New York Times characterized the publication as "A Magazine that Won't Smudge."

Postmatter.com described the project in this way:

"Post is a project born of love for magazines, and one dedicated to taking that love beyond paper and physical matter. A new frontier and paradigm in publishing, Post looks beyond the traditional rules of how and what magazines 'should be', in favour of speculating upon what magazines could be. It is about fashion, art, architecture, cinema, music, culture. It is about what's exciting now and tomorrow.

"Post is an only child, born of the iPad, with no printed sibling to imitate or be intimated by. Liberated from the imposing heritage of print culture, Post exists an entirely virtual realm, yet is intimately connected to material through the medium of touch. Inherently interactive Post presents a truly multimedia, mult-sensory journey from the first frame to the last, where the advertisements all built for Post by Post are immerse, tactile experiences.

"Post is not a thing. It is an idea. A non-surface whose pages dissolve and reform at your touch. It is material for the mind, the eyes, and sometimes the ears. An entire world existing only with a plane of smooth glass, tangibly alive, but cool to the touch. Let Post be your guide" (accessed 05-25-2011).

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Microsoft Acquires Skype for $8.5 Billion May 2011

In its acquisition of Skype for $8.5 billion Microsoft acquired a company founded in 2003, which never made money, changed hands many times, and came with substantial debt. 

The purchase price was roughly ten times the $860 million revenue of the company in 2010. Skype's debt was $686 million — not a problem for Microsoft.

Microsoft paid such a premium for the company because at the time of purchase Skype was growing at the rate of 500,000 new registered users per day, had 170 million connected users, with 30 million users communicating on the Skype platform concurrently. Volume of communications over the platform totaled 209 billion voice and video minutes in 2010.

"Services like Skype can cut into the carriers’ revenues because they offer easy ways to make phone calls, videoconference and send messages free over the Internet, encroaching on the ways that phone companies have traditionally made money" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/16/technology/16phone.html?hpw, accessed 05-16-2011).

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In May 2011 Netflix was the Largest Source of Internet Traffic in North America May 2011

In May 2011 video streaming company Netflix, headquartered in Los Gatos, California, was the largest source of Internet traffic in North America, accounting for 29.7 percent of peak downstream traffic. The company was also the largest overall source of Internet traffic.

"Currently, real-time entertainment applications consume 49.2 percent of peak aggregate traffic - up from 29.5 percent in 2009. And the company forecasts that the category will account for as much as 60 percent of peak aggregate traffic by the end of this year.

"And in Europe, the figure's even higher. Overall, individual subscribers in Europe consume twice the amount of data as North Americans" (http://www.tgdaily.com/games-and-entertainment-features/56015-netflix-becomes-biggest-source-of-internet-traffic, accessed 05-18-2011). 

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Snapchat: Communication and Automatic Destruction of Information September 2011

In September 2011 Stanford University students Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy produced the initial release of the photo messaging application Snapchat, famously launching the program "from Spiegel's father's living room." Users of the app take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. Photographs and videos sent through the app are known as "Snaps". Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps, after which the photos or videos are hidden from the recipient's device and deleted from Snapchat's servers. In December 2013 the range was from 1 to 10 seconds. 

In November 2013 it was reported that Snapchat was sharing 400 million photos per day—more than Facebook.

"Founder Evan Spiegel explained that Snapchat is intended to counteract the trend of users being compelled to manage an idealized online identity of themselves, which he says has "taken all of the fun out of communicating". Snapchat can locate a user's friends through the user's smartphone contact list. Research conducted in the UK has shown that, as of June 2013, half of all 18 to 30-year-old respondents (47 percent) have received nude pictures, while 67 percent had received images of "inappropriate poses or gestures".

"Snapchat launched the "Snapchat Stories" feature in early October 2013 and released corresponding video advertisements with the tagline "It's about time." The feature allows users to create links of shared content that can be viewed an unlimited number of times over a 24-hour period. The "stories" are simultaneously shared with the user's friends and content remains for 24 hours before disappearing.

"Another controversy surrounding the rising popularity of Snapchat in the United States relates to a phenomenon known as sexting. This involves the sending and receiving of explicit images that often involve some degree of nudity. Because the application is commonly used by younger generations, often below the age of eighteen, the question has been raised whether or not certain users are technically distributing child pornography. For this reason, many adults disapprove of their children's use of the application. Snapchat's developers continue to insist that the application is not sexting-friendly and that they do not condone any kind of pornographic use.

"On November 14, 2013, police in LavalQuebec, Canada arrested 10 boys aged 13 to 15 on child pornography charges after the boys allegedly captured and shared explicit photos of teenage girls sent through Snapchat as screenshots.

"In February 2013, a study by market research firm Survata found that mobile phone users are more likely to "sext over SMS than over Snapchat" (Wikipedia article on Snapchat, accessed 12-12-2013).

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Steve Jobs Dies October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs, one of the most influential and daring innovators in the history of media, and arguably the most innovative and influential figure in the computer industry since the development of the personal computer, died at the age of 55 after a well-publicized battle with pancreatic cancer. Responsible, as inspirational leader, for building the first commercially successful personal computer (Apple II), for developing and popularizing the graphical user interface (Macintosh) which made personal computers user friendly, for developing desktop publishing, for making music truly portable (iPod, iTunes), for bringing all the elements of the personal computer to cell phones (iPhone), for causing the widespread acceptance of tablet computers (iPad), Jobs not only rescued Apple Computer from near failure and made it for a time the most valuable company in the S&P 500, but also achieved great success through his ownership of Pixar Animation Studios, which he eventually sold to The Walt Disney Company. Characteristics of Jobs' style were exceptional boldness in the conception of products, high quality and ease of use, and elegance of industrial design.

"Mr. Jobs even failed well. NeXT, a computer company he founded during his years in exile from Apple, was never a commercial success. But it was a technology pioneer. The World Wide Web was created on a NeXT computer, and NeXT software is the core of Apple’s operating systems today" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/09/business/steve-jobs-and-the-power-of-taking-the-big-chance.html?hp).

An article published in The New York Times on October 8, 2011 compared and contrasted the lives and achievements of Steve Jobs with that earlier great American inventor and innovator, Thomas Alva Edison.

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More than One Trillion Videos Were Played Back on YouTube in 2011 December 20, 2011

"In total, there were more than 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) playbacks on YouTube this year (yep, count ‘em, 12 zeroes). That’s about 140 views for every person on the earth. More than twice as many stars as in the Milky Way. And if I had a penny for every … OK, you get my drift, it’s a big number" (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/what-were-we-watching-this-year-lets.html, accessed 12-20-2011).

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2012 – 2016

What Makes Spoken Lines in Movies Memorable? April 30, 2012

Sentences that endure in the public mind are evolutionary success stories, comparing “the fitness of language and the fitness of organisms.” On April 30, 2012 Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, Justin Cheng, Jon Kleinberg, and Lillian Lee of the Department of Computer Science at Cornell University published "You had me at hello: How phrasing affects memorability," arXiv: 1203.6360v2 [cs.CL] 30 Apr 2012, (accessed 01-27-2013). Using the "memorable quotes" selected from the Internet Movie Database or IMDb, and the number of times that a particular movie line appeared on the Internet, they compared the memorable lines to the complete scripts of the movies in which they appeared—about 1,000 movies

"To train their statistical algorithms on common sentence structure, word order and most widely used words, they fed their computers a huge archive of articles from news wires. The memorable lines consisted of surprising words embedded in sentences of ordinary structure. 'We can think of memorable quotes as consisting of unusual word choices built on a scaffolding of common part-of-speech patterns,' their study said.  

Consider the line 'You had me at hello,' from the movie 'Jerry McGuire.' It is, Mr. Kleinberg notes, basically the same sequence of parts of speech as the quotidian 'I met him in Boston.' Or consider this line from 'Apocalypse Now': 'I love the smell of napalm in the morning.'Only one word separates that utterance from this: 'I love the smell of coffee in the morning.'

"This kind of analysis can be used for all kinds of communications, including advertising. Indeed, Mr. Kleinberg’s group also looked at ad slogans. Statistically, the ones most similar to memorable movie quotes included 'Quality never goes out of style,' for Levi’s jeans, and 'Come to Marlboro Country,' for Marlboro cigarettes.  

"But the algorithmic methods aren’t a foolproof guide to real-world success. One ad slogan that didn’t fit well within the statistical parameters for memorable lines was the Energizer batteries catchphrase, 'It keeps going and going and going.'

"Quantitative tools in the humanities and the social sciences, as in other fields, are most powerful when they are controlled by an intelligent human. Experts with deep knowledge of a subject are needed to ask the right questions and to recognize the shortcomings of statistical models.  

“ 'You’ll always need both,' says Mr. [Matthew] Jockers, the literary quant. 'But we’re at a moment now when there is much greater acceptance of these methods than in the past. There will come a time when this kind of analysis is just part of the tool kit in the humanities, as in every other discipline' " (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/technology/literary-history-seen-through-big-datas-lens.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130127, accessed 01-27-2013).

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"The Life of Pi": Computer Graphic Animation Indistinguishable from Nature December 22, 2012

On December 22, 2012 my wife Trish and I went to see the Life of Pi, an American adventure drama film based on Yann Martell's 2001 novel directed by Ang Lee and distributed by 20th Century Fox in Los Angeles. There has, of course, been much written about this imaginative novel and the film. With respect to this database the story line, and the inspirational aspects of the novel and film are not strictly relevant. What was of particular interest to me was the revelation only after I had seen the film that most of the scenes with the tiger were done entirely by computer graphic animation. During the film every image—every scene in which the tiger appeared— appeared to be 100% real. No computer graphic animation in any previous film that I had seen had achieved this level of realism.

"Visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer was no stranger to animal-oriented projects when he came aboard Ang Lee's 'Life of Pi' to realize a digital photorealistic tiger. However, the film presented challenges beyond merely creating the beast. In 'Pi,' the tiger, oddly named Richard Parker, is one of the two main characters. He and Pi Patel, played by Suraj Sharma, are castaways who survive 227 days on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean. 

"Westenhofer began his work by bringing four real tigers to Taiwan, where the film was partly shot, in order to obtain very precise animation references with the goal of making the animal as real-looking as possible.  

"According to Westenhofer, even the most skilled animators in the world need visual references. 'A tiger is a solid mass of muscle with a loose bag of skin surrounding it, like a cloth that is draped over it,' he says. 'We really studied the tiny nuances such as the shoulder ripple that occurs when he shifts his weight. By having the reference clips, we kept true to how the animal would react.'

"After training and rehearsing with the tigers for five weeks, the production completed 23 shots of a real tiger around the lifeboat where most of the story takes place. The film's remaining 148 tiger shots would be realized with advanced computer graphics technology. In the film, the real tigers are indistinguishable from the digital ones.  

"The lead vfx shop on the tiger shots, Rhythm and Hues, spent full year on research and development, building upon its already vast knowledge of CG animation as it created the fearsome Richard Parker. 'Forty percent of our efforts were (born of) new technology,' which was used create 'the hair, the way it lights, the muscle and skin system,' Westenhofer says" (http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118063581/?refcatid=13, accessed 12-23-2012).  

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Criticism of Julian Assange and Wikileaks as Reflected in the Film, "The Fifth Estate" 2013

On January 4, 2015 I viewed the Blu-ray disc of the 2013 film The Fifth Estate directed by Bill Condon, about the news-leaking website WikiLeaks. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as its editor-in-chief and founder Julian Assange, and Daniel Brühl as its former and now disaffected spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg. The screenplay was written by Josh Singer based in-part on Domscheit-Berg's book Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange and the World's Most Dangerous Website (2011), as well as WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy (2011) by British journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding. The title of the film, The Fifth Estate is a term used to describe the people who operate in the manner of journalists outside the normal editorial and judgmental constraints imposed on the mainstream media. The film performed poorly at the box office and garnered mixed critical reaction, receiving criticism for its screenplay and direction; however, praise was given on the acting, particularly Cumberbatch's performance. My primary reason for viewing the film was to see Cumberbatch play Assange; I became interested in his acting after viewing the first three seasons of his TV series Sherlock, and his portrayal of Alan Turing in the 2014 film The Imitation Game. Like most viewers, I considered Cumberbatch's portrayals in all three roles to be extremely successful artistically, and very entertaining. Watching the film, of course, reminded me of the controversial political role of Julian Assange, who remained, as of January 2015, for all intents and purposes under house arrest in the London Embassy of Ecuador, where he was granted asylum, in order to avoid extradition to Sweden for prosecution for rape and molestation.

Following the screenplay, Cumberbatch portrayed Assange as an egotistic, conceited, perhaps justifiably paranoid individualist who, remarkably, created Wikileaks essentially by himself, while claiming initially that he had many assistants. Daniel Domscheit-Berg, identified in the film as Daniel Berg, appears to have been Assange's first genuine, devoted helper, who became disaffected because of Assange's refusal to use normal editorial restraint and judgment in protecting the identities of people mentioned in the leaks whose lives might be compromised by publication of the information. Berg's view reflects the highly complicated role of Wikileaks as a new journalistic medium, called the "Fifth Estate" most strongly associated with bloggers, journalists, and media outlets that operate outside of the mainstream media, and often in opposition to mainstream media. This followed the concept of the "Fourth Estate", which emerged in reference to forces outside the established power structure, and is now most commonly used to refer to the independent press or media.

The reception of Wikileaks has been complex and controversial. On the one hand it has been strongly supported by advocates of freedom in communication, and in its exposure of criminality and injustice; on the other hand, its lack of editorial control and judgment in publishing vast quantities of unedited documents and communications, which sometimes places the lives innocent people mentioned in the leaks in danger, has been strongly condemned. For a summary of its reception I quote the Wikipedia article on Wikileaks as it appeared on 01-05-2015. (As usual I do not include the footnotes which can be accessed on Wikipedia's website):

"WikiLeaks has received praise as well as criticism. The organisation has won a number of awards, including The Economist's New Media Award in 2008 at the Index on Censorship Awards and Amnesty International's UK Media Award in 2009. In 2010, the New York Daily News listed WikiLeaks first among websites "that could totally change the news," and Julian Assange received the Sam Adams Award and was named the Readers' Choice for TIME's Person of the Year in 2010. The UK Information Commissioner has stated that "WikiLeaks is part of the phenomenon of the online, empowered citizen." During its first days, an Internet petition calling for the cessation of extra-judicial intimidation of WikiLeaks attracted more than six hundred thousand signatures. Sympathizers of WikiLeaks in the media and academia have commended it for exposing state and corporate secrets, increasing transparency, assisting freedom of the press, and enhancing democratic discourse while challenging powerful institutions.

"At the same time, several U.S. government officials have criticized WikiLeaks for exposing classified information and claimed that the leaks harm national security and compromise international diplomacy. Several human rights organisations requested with respect to earlier document releases that WikiLeaks adequately redact the names of civilians working with international forces, in order to prevent repercussions. Some journalists have likewise criticised a perceived lack of editorial discretion when releasing thousands of documents at once and without sufficient analysis. In response to some of the negative reaction, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed concern over the "cyber war" against WikiLeaks, and in a joint statement with the Organization of American States the UN Special Rapporteur has called on states and other actors to keep international legal principles in mind. According to journalist Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, WikiLeaks is motivated by "a theory of anarchy," not a theory of journalism or social activism."


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"Billboard" Starts to Include YouTube Streams in its Calculation of the Most Popular Songs of the Week February 20, 2013

"Billboard and Nielsen announced today the addition of U.S. YouTube video streaming data to its platforms, which includes an update to the methodology for the Billboard Hot 100, the preeminent singles chart.

"The YouTube streaming data is now factored into the chart's ranking, enhancing a formula that includes Nielsen's digital download track sales and physical singles sales; as well as terrestrial radio airplay, on-demand audio streaming, and online radio streaming, also tracked by Nielsen.  

"Billboard is now incorporating all official videos on YouTube captured by Nielsen's streaming measurement, including Vevo on YouTube, and user-generated clips that utilize authorized audio into the Hot 100 and the Hot 100 formula-based genre charts – Hot Country Songs, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, R&B Songs, Rap Songs, Hot Latin Songs, Hot Rock Songs and Dance/Electronic Songs – to further reflect the divergent platforms for music consumption in today's world.

"The most notable YouTube-influenced title this week is viral sensation 'Harlem Shake' by producer Baauer, which debuts at No. 1 on both the Hot 100 and Streaming Songs charts and jumps 12-1 on Dance/Electronic Songs with 103 million views, according to YouTube. According to Nielsen, the "Harlem Shake" arrival also benefits from viral video-influenced sales of 262,000 downloads. That sales sum alone, good for a No. 3 ranking on Hot Digital Songs, would have placed the track within the top 15 on the Hot 100 without the inclusion of YouTube streams into the calculation" (http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/1549399/hot-100-news-billboard-and-nielsen-add-youtube-video-streaming-to-platforms, accessed 02-21-2013).

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Drone Pilots Experience Stress Possibly Greater than Actual Combat Pilots February 23, 2013

"In the first study of its kind, researchers with the Defense Department have found that pilots of drone aircraft experience mental health problems like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress at the same rate as pilots of manned aircraft who are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

"The study affirms a growing body of research finding health hazards even for those piloting machines from bases far from actual combat zones.  

“ 'Though it might be thousands of miles from the battlefield, this work still involves tough stressors and has tough consequences for those crews,' said Peter W. Singer, a scholar at the Brookings Institution who has written extensively about drones. He was not involved in the new research.  

"That study, by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, which analyzes health trends among military personnel, did not try to explain the sources of mental health problems among drone pilots.  

"But Air Force officials and independent experts have suggested several potential causes, among them witnessing combat violence on live video feeds, working in isolation or under inflexible shift hours, juggling the simultaneous demands of home life with combat operations and dealing with intense stress because of crew shortages. 'Remotely piloted aircraft pilots may stare at the same piece of ground for days,' said Jean Lin Otto, an epidemiologist who was a co-author of the study. 'They witness the carnage. Manned aircraft pilots don’t do that. They get out of there as soon as possible.'  

"Dr. Otto said she had begun the study expecting that drone pilots would actually have a higher rate of mental health problems because of the unique pressures of their job.  

"Since 2008, the number of pilots of remotely piloted aircraft — the Air Force’s preferred term for drones — has grown fourfold, to nearly 1,300. The Air Force is now training more pilots for its drones than for its fighter jets and bombers combined. And by 2015, it expects to have more drone pilots than bomber pilots, although fighter pilots will remain a larger group.

"Those figures do not include drones operated by the C.I.A. in counterterrorism operations over Pakistan, Yemen and other countries" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/23/us/drone-pilots-found-to-get-stress-disorders-much-as-those-in-combat-do.html?hpw&_r=0, accessed 02-23-2013).

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PBS Digital Studios: Will 3D Printing Change the World? February 28, 2013

Much attention has been paid to 3D Printing lately, with new companies developing cheaper and more efficient consumer models that have wowed the tech community. They herald 3D Printing as a revolutionary and disruptive technology, but how will these printers truly affect our society? Beyond an initial novelty, 3D Printing could have a game-changing impact on consumer culture, copyright and patent law, and even the very concept of scarcity on which our economy is based. From at-home repairs to new businesses, from medical to ecological developments, 3D Printing has an undeniably wide range of possibilities which could profoundly change our world.

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The World's Smallest Movie April 30, 2013

Screen shot from world's smallest movie: "A Boy and His Atom," by IBM.

On April 30, 2013 scientists at IBM Almaden Research Center, San Jose, California unveiled and mounted on YouTube what they called "the world's smallest movie," which tracks the movement of atoms magnified 100 million times. When I viewed the motion picture on the morning of May 1, 2013 it had already been viewed 84,000 times.

The video, A Boy and his Atom depicts a boy named Atom who befriends a single atom and follows him on a journey of dancing and bouncing that helps explain the science behind data storage. Using techniques it honed after years of researching atomic data storage, IBM created 250 stop-motion frames depicting a boy playing with his (pet? toy?) atom.

To manipulate single atoms in this way IBM used its two-ton scanning-tunnelling microscope, which operates at minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The microscope moved a "super-sharp" needle to within 1 nanometer of a copper surface, which then could attract and physically move each atom, one by one.  

"Capturing, positioning and shaping atoms to create an original motion picture on the atomic-level is a precise science and entirely novel," said Andreas Heinrich, a scientist at IBM Research" (http://news.discovery.com/tech/nanotechnology/atom-stars-worlds-smallest-movie-130501.htm, accessed 05-01-2013).

Along with the world's smallest movie, IBM also posted a highly informative documentary on the science and technology involved in making the movie entitled Moving Atoms: Making the World's Smallest Movie.

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A Multi-Media Version of an Article in the New York Times Magazine October 27, 2013

On October 25, 2013 I enjoyed reading on The New York Times website an illustrated article from the October 27, 2013 issue of the New York Times Magazine. The article by Jeff Himmelman concerning the politics of Ayungin Shoal in the Spratly Islands located in a remote corner of the South China Sea, 105 nautical miles from the Philippines, was entitled "A Game of Shark and Minnow." It was illustrated with photographs and video by Ashley Gilbertson. The presentation of the article involved a fascinating combination of video, sound and text, using full-screen videos and sound captioned with text, interspersed with the text of the story. Though I assume that this was not the first online magazine article to incorporate these features it was the first magazine article that I read on the web to use the features in this manner.  In my opinion the presentation was remarkably effective.

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Animating Classical Representational Paintings January 2014

In January 2014 Italian experimental animator and director Rino Stefano Tagliafierro of Milan issued B E A U T Y, a nearly 10 minute video animating, with extraordinary realism and sensitivity, numerous classical representational paintings, especially a series by Bourguereau and Caravaggio, but also a few by Rubens and Rembrandt and other artists. The dramatic music and sound Design was by Enrico Ascoli; "historiographer" was Giuliano Corti.

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The National September 11 Memorial Museum Opens May 15, 2014

On May 15, 2014 the National September 11 Memorial Museum opened at Ground Zero in New York City. One day earlier The New York Times published a review of the museum by Holland Cotter entitled "The 9/11 Story Told at Bedrock, Powerful as a Punch to the Gut. Sept. 11 Memorial Museum at Ground Zero Prepares for Opening."

From the standpoint of media history, I found the interactive feature, also published in The New York Times on May 14, an example of how news coverage had been changed by the Internet. The feature by Leslye Davis, Alicia Desantis, Graham Roberts and Matt Ruby was entitled, "A New Story Told at Grand Zero. The National September 11 Memorial Museum." In a magazine format the feature took you from the surface down underground and through the new museum. As you read the narrative and viewed the striking images, you passed narrated videos which automatically turned and allowed designers of the museum to explain the purposes and design of different features of the museum in their own words. It was a remarkably effective introduction to a museum recording the September 11 2001 events which, unfolded— it was estimated— before two billion people, on television, and for which the repercussions continued to be felt world wide more than a decade later.

Prior to the Internet The New York Times would have covered the story in print with more text and captioned still images. Statements by designers of the museum would have been quoted. In "A New Story Told at Ground Zero" the museum designers were given the opportunity to tell the story in their own words and in the individual sound of their own voice.

Also on May 14, 2014 The New York Times published "9/11 Artifacts and the Stories They Tell" by Stephen Farrell, which consisted of five narrated videos. Of special interest to me was the first video, The Keepers of 9/11, in which the chief curator of the September 11 Memorial Museum and officials at other New York institutions described how they selected the objects "by which future generations will remember September 11."

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The First "Professional" Film Festival Film Shot on an iPhone January 2015

"So how do you make a Sundance movie for iPhone? You need four things. First, of course, the iPhone (Baker and his team used three). Second, an $8 app called Filmic Pro that allowed the filmmakers fine-grained control over the focus, aperture, and color temperature. Third, a Steadicam. 'These phones, because they’re so light, and they’re so small, a human hand — no matter how stable you are — it will shake. And it won’t look good,' says Baker. 'So you needed the Steadicam rig to stabilize it.'

"The final ingredient was a set of anamorphic adapter lenses that attach to the iPhone. The lenses were prototypes from Moondog Labs, and Baker said they were essential to making Tangerine look like it belonged on a big screen. 'To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t have even made the movie without it,' Baker says. 'It truly elevated it to a cinematic level.'

"Like any conventional film,Tangerine underwent post-production. 'With a lot of these social realist films, the first thing you do is drain the color,' Baker says." 

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