Sir David Brewster, 1946
| How it works | What
became of it | Sources
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The chromatrope was developed
29 years after Brewster invented the similar, more familiar kaleidoscope in 1817.
When lit from behind by a magic lantern, the chromatrope can
create the same colorful,
constantly changing pattern visible on an ordinary kaleidoscope.
However, a much larger pattern can be viewed from the chromatrope
when the pattern is backlit and projected onto a clear wall.
How it works:
Magic lanterns could project kaleidoscopic patterns in the same
way ordinary slides were projected. However, the
chromatrope was different from the majority of slides.
It was a mechanical slide, meaning there were moving parts inside that were responsible for making
the changing patterns. The chromatrope
up of several disks of glass that turn when rotated by an exterior
handle. The handle is not directly attached to the disks of
glass, but rather, the handle drives a set of gears that then turn
the glass disks. The disks are painted with colorful
designs, and when lit from behind by a magic lantern, the changing
patterns are projected onto a wall.
What became of it:
Although chromatropes are no longer being made,
kaleidoscopes produce similar colorful patterns
and remain a popular children's toy. Of the thaumatrope, stereoscope, or any other optical toy that has
survived into the 21st century, kaleidoscopes are perhaps the most
popular. The descendants of the
chromatrope and early kaleidoscopes can be found
in virtually every toy store in America.
About the chromatrope, plus an
animation of a working chromatrope
Origin of this magic lantern version (see bottom