Some of you may know I ‘m a bit of a history buff, so the other day I was looking at the Kodak site and found out a bit of interesting information on the story of how 35 mm was selected for the first motion picture film.

It seems that back in 1887 Reverend Hannaibal Goodwin, of England, invented a way to coat photographic emulsion on a cellulose base making film flexible.

Jump to America in 1888 where George Eastman purchased the rights to use that patent and introduced the KODAK BROWNIE camera. Some time shortly after, W.K.L. Dickson  (who worked for Thomas Edison) saw the BROWNIE and traveled to Rochester to meet with Eastman. Dickson was at the time working on the Kinetograph camera and got Eastman to provide him with the film that he needed.

At the time Kodak film was manufactured in 70mm wide rolls which when loaded into a BROWNIE gave you about 100 exposures. Dickson determined that if sliced in half lengthwise to 35mm, it would be more manageable in the new camera.

Eastman provided the film, which was perforated on both edges sixty four times per foot to engage the Kinetograph’s sprockets. These basic specifications have remained the world standard for cinematography ever since.

Now the Kinetograph camera was powered by a hand crank and it was determined that a frame rate of about sixteen images per second would be satisfactory for moving pictures when viewed. The camera made eight exposures for every turn of the crank, and two turns per second became the standard until the advent of sound, which required twenty-four. Then as  now, 35mm film had sixteen photographic frames per foot of film. Accordingly, the length of film footage during the Silent Era was equal to the movie’s running time in seconds. That’s why we still measure film by the foot.

This sets the stage for May 20, 1891 when Edison demonstrated the Kinetoscope for the first time to a group from the National Federation of Women’s Clubs at his research laboratory.

Well I hope you may have found this little story interesting. I’ll try to come up with something more high tech next time.