In 1825, Dr. Paris from London, published the first set of Thaumatropes, otherwise known as the the Wonder Turner. As it turned out, the principle was wrong as we know that it’s the brain that does all processing. However, this toy had the merit to start a whole series of experiments aimed at animating images, which eventually, together with the invention of photography, led to the birth of cinema.
Although Aristotle in Greece and Mozi in China were familiar with a form of the pinhole camera, otherwise known as Camera Obscura, it is the Arab scientist Alhazen who really understood it and is credited with its invention between
the years 1015 to 1021.One of Alhazen's most significant contributions to the image was a seven-volume study on optics titled Kitab Al-Manazir (later translated to Latin as Opticae Thesaurus Alhazeni, Alhazen's Book of Optics).The
combination of the camera obscura, which only shows an inverted picture, and the property of silver nitrate, allowed for the creation of the 1st photograph in 1827. A little known fact is that the word "camera" is derived from
what Alhazen called in Arabic "Al Qumra".
Peepshow Viewers or Peep Boxes can be traced back to 15th century Europe and are known in various other cultures.For hundreds of years this innovation has entertained people. By simply looking through a small hole or magnifying glass,
the viewer enters a world of magical and extraordinary discovery.Showmen carried their Peep Boxes across Europe setting up at fairs and markets displaying images of battles, faraway lands, and historical events.
Invented by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1838, Stereoscopy enhanced the illusion of depth by turning 2D images into 3D experiences by using a pair of 2 dimensional images and a special viewer. The first Stereoscopy viewers used drawings
as they predate the invention of photography.The Stereoscopy viewers proved extremely popular and hundreds of models were produced. Once photographs could be printed affordably, their appeal endured through the 19th and 20th century
and their ability to produce 3D images still fascinates today.
From the 16th century onwards, artists have played with images to find ways of transforming and distorting them. An example of this is the anamorphic perspective, which distorts reality using mathematical grids. Leonardo Da Vinci was
known to experiment with them. Others transformed images by folding, overlaying and playing with cuts.
The invention of the Magic Lantern in the late 17th century introduced the ability to project images and kicked off a new era in the world of visual entertainment. The first lanterns were mostly used by magicians and conjurers. The
18th century saw the development of the phantasmagoria invented by the Belgian illusionist, Robertson. The projections of ghosts and other frightening figures fascinated people at that time. The birth of cinema, introduced
by the Lumiere brothers in 1895, caused a rapid decline of the magic lantern shows during the 20th century.
Numerous devices that successfully displayed animated images were introduced well before the advent of the motion picture. These devices were used to entertain, amaze, and sometimes even frighten people. The majority of these devices
didn't project their images, and could only be viewed by a one or a few persons at a time. They were considered optical toys rather than devices for a large scale entertainment industry like later animation. Many
of these devices are still built by and for film students learning the basic principles of animation.