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A screen shot of 'Fred Ott's Sneeze'

A scene from "Fred Ott's Sneeze" from 1894

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Thomas Edison Patented the Kinetoscope
August 31, 1897

When his assistant W.K.L. Dickson invented the motion picture viewer, Edison initially considered it an insignificant toy. However, it turned out to be an immediate success. Edison had hoped the invention would boost sales of his record player, the phonograph, but he was unable to match sound with pictures. Therefore, he directed the creation of the kinetoscope, a device for viewing moving pictures without sound. Edison patented this invention on August 31, 1897. Most of those early kinetoscope films disintegrated or burned because of the film's nitrate (acidic) base. But luckily, he had made paper copies of the film's individual frames, called "contact prints." So now you can view one of Edison's first-ever moving pictures, commonly called "Fred Ott's Sneeze."
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VIDEO CREDIT: Edison Manufacturing Co., “Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze,” 1894. Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress. Call Number FEC 8091.