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A screen shot from Stealing a Dinner
The police dog arrests Professor Leonidas! (from Stealing a Dinner)

"Billy" Bitzer films Stealing a Dinner
April 28, 1899

This short comedy was one of the first motion pictures filmed by Bitzer for the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company. The mutoscope was a peephole motion picture device run by hand. The frames for the mutoscope were on cards (instead of film)-mounted on a rotating drum. When turned very quickly, it created the illusion of movement. Have you ever drawn pictures on the corner of a pad of paper and flipped through it quickly? The pictures seem to move! That was the basis of these early movies, until the projector came along and changed everything.
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VIDEO CREDIT: Blackton, Stuart J. and Smith, Albert E. producer. "Hooligan Assists the Magician." Edison Manufacturing Co., 1900. Inventing Entertainment: The Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies, Library of Congress.