This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

Reality TV is Born?


February 13, 1895: Motion Picture Projector Patented

Could this be the beginnings of “Reality TV”.  After all that is what they filmed. The Lumiere brothers patent their cinematograph (literally, “the writing of the movement”), one of the earliest motion picture projectors. [above, the world’s first film poster for 1895’s L’Arroseur arrosé (The Sprinkler Sprinkled)]

461px-CinematographeCamera 443px-Auguste_Lumiere_-_Louis_Lumiere_ca1914

The cinématographe also served as a film camera and developer, making it one of the first “all-in-one” devices, beating HP by about 100 years.


The Lumière brothers, Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas and Louis Jean, were the earliest filmmakers in history. (appropriately, “lumière” translates as “light” in English.)  The Lumières held their first private screening of projected motion pictures in 1895.

Lumiere Brothers - Picture of them

Not content with being the inventors of the cinema itself, they are also known as the first filmmakers. Their favorite topic… people filmed in their daily activities. The tone is set: the cinematograph will film movement. Reality TV is born!

Their first public screening of films at which admission was charged was held on December 28, 1895, at Salon Indien du Grand Café in Paris.  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.

Lumière’s Shorts

The Lumières went on a “Rock Star” tour with the cinématographe in 1896, visiting Bombay, London, Montreal, New York and Buenos Aires. The moving images had an immediate and significant influence on popular culture with L’Arrivée d’un Train en Gare de la Ciotat (literally, “the arrival of a train at La Ciotat”, more commonly known as, Arrival of a Train at a Station) and Carmaux, défournage du coke (Drawing out the coke). Their titles left something to be desired.

Their actuality films, or actualités, are often cited as the first, primitive documentaries. They also made the first steps towards comedy film with the slapstick of L’Arroseur Arrosé.

Lumières first film: Workers Leaving the Factory

First Comedy Movie: The Sprinkler Sprinkled


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