Kinora

Louis and Auguste Lumiere, 1912

History | What made it popular | How it works | What became of it
Video Demonstrations | Sources | Back to Optical Toys

History:

The Kinora was the most successful home movie machine in Britain before 1912.  Because of its design and inability to project moving pictures, its use was limited to one or a few people, and therefore became popular at home where public screen projection was unnecessary.  It is interesting to note that 17 years earlier, the Lumiere brothers had created a device capable of projecting movies to large audiences.  Many today consider their invention, the Cinematographe, the start of modern cinema.  Yet despite the public's newfound interest in projected movies, the Kinora continued to be highly popular in Britain for nearly 20 years after the birth of cinema.  

What made it popular:

The Kinora's popularity can be traced to several features that made it ideal for home use.  Kinora Ltd., an English company, converted the Lumiere brothers' invention into a form that made it perfect for the home.  This company was a large contributor to the Kinora's popularity in Britain.  First, Kinora Ltd. supplied Kinora reels printed from professionally-shot films that people could buy or rent for personal viewing.  Even today, movie rentals are still a popular industry, compared with the theatre industry.  Second, people could have motion portraits of themselves taken in a photographic studio, and view them later on their Kinora.  Lastly, the company. supplied an amateur camera in 1908 so that people could make their own Kinora movies.  The rolls of 25.4 mm paper or celluloid were processed and printed by Kinora Ltd., then made into reels. 

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How it works:

A wheel, 14 cm in diameter, holds a set of small individual pictures.  The wheel is rotated by a handle, allowing each picture to become fixed for a short moment in front of a lens.  Because of its design, only one person at a time can view the movie through the single lens.  At the right turning speed, the succession of pictures gives the illusion of motion.  Each wheel has 25 seconds of motion.

What became of it:

Like almost all of the home movie machines, interest in the Kinora was essentially lost after the public developed a newfound interest in cinema.  Also, the Kinora Ltd. factory in London burned down in 1914, and the company apparently saw no need to rebuild itself after public interest in the Kinora had declined.

Links to video demonstrations:

Streamed (requires RealPlayer G2 or higher)
Fast connection (T1/LAN/DSL/cable) only
All connections

For higher video quality in a downloadable file
Video for Windows

QuickTime

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Sources:

Coe, Brian.  The History of Movie Photography.  Eastview Editions, 1981. pp 163.
http://www.deadmedia.org/notes/1/013.html 

Background information:
http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/~s-herbert/kinora.htm
 
http://www.deadmedia.org/notes/13/138.html