Below is a timeline for all of the notable events pertaining to the home movies business (movies for the home on film formats). It should be noted that this website uses the term, “Home Video,” in two different ways. Firstly, it uses it as an umbrella term for the viewing of movies in the home, physical or otherwise. Secondly, its also the label given to the era in time where movies are being released on physical video formats.
The parlor kinetoscope is an early attempt to make a home version of Edison’s Kinetoscope. These were tabletop devices that used paper strips of images and a hand crank to create the motion picture. Most were manufactured by the American Parlor Kinetoscope Company out of Washington, DC.
A 17.5mm portable camera and projector in one intended for amateurs. Developed by Birt Acres.
The Kinora was a hand cranked tabletop viewer sold to the home market. Instead of film, it flipped through a spool of photographic cards, much like a flipbook or a mutoscope. Originally invented by the Lumiere brothers in 1895, they sold their patent to Gaumont, who first released the device with 100 different reels in 1900.
November 21st, 1910 (Westminster Gazette, 1911/01/16, p. 12)
The first non-combustible film stock, also known as safety film, becomes available to the public. It is from the company, Boroid LTD, out of London. It uses acetate as a film base rather than the more common and highly flammable nitrate base. Although Eastman Kodak and Pathe had already developed their versions of safety film, it had been rejected by the industry for being too brittle. Theirs will be reintroduce two years later for use with home projectors.
A French 28mm home projector which used safety (non-combustible) film. Developed by Pathé-Frères, it’s first patented in 1911, sold to the public in 1912. Printed films are made available for rent or purchase through catalogs.
March 27th, 1912 (New York Times, 1912/03/28, p. 11)
The first American projector made for the home market is demonstrated by Edison. It uses a 22mm film stock. Printed films are made available for purchase through authorized outlets.
William Beech Cook establishes Pathescope Company of America to sell surplus Pathe KOK projectors and printed 28mm films (called Pathescopes) in the U.S.
Unable to receive further stock of the Kok projector due to the first World War, Pathescope Company of America redesigned the French projector into the “New Premier Pathescope.”
Victor launches their own version of a 28mm projector to the American market.
Competing projector manufacturers, Bell & Howell and Victor Animatograph Corp, agree to Kodak’s plans for a 16mm standard intended for non-theatrical or amateur use.
First patented in 1907 and finally manufactured in 1921 by Charles Urban, the device spun a 10.5” film disc either by hand crank or an electric motor, which then produced a moving image viewable through an attached eyepiece. It is the first motion picture home media on a disc.
A line of amateur 9.5mm cameras and projectors. The 9.5mm film format became a popular printed film format in Europe.
Kodak launched their 16 mm format and their first 16 mm projector, the Kodascope. The format is intended solely for non-theatrical and amateur use. Victor and Bell & Howell also their own 16 mm projectors the following year.
The Kodascope Library is established to offer 16mm (and later 8mm) printed films for rent. Lasts until 1939.
1927 (New York Times, 1927/05/27, p. 29)
Kodak launches a line of printed 16mm films intended for sale to the public.
1927 (Billboard, 1927/11/12, p. 36)
Billboard announced that “Pathé has pictures ready for home use.” They’re short 16mm subjects, which they called Pathegrams. These early films are mostly educational with a few Hal Roach comedies.
Kodak launches 8mm film, intended for amateur use.
Established in the early early 1930s as a film developer and home movies distributor, HFE licenses Walt Disney short cartoons in 1934 to be sold on the home market.
Film editor and distributor, Eugene Castle, revives Pathe’s Pathegram line of home movies. The first release, Hindenburg Explodes!, is a huge success, taking in a reported $40,000-$50,000 (nearly $1 million today) in the first few days.
Shortly after his success with the revived Pathegram line, Eugene Castle splits with Pathe and creates a home movies division at his distribution company, Castle Films.