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Make way for yesterday

Silent cinema is going strong at Chautauqua Auditorium

By Michael J. Casey

The movies started small. So small that only one person at a time could watch them. The year was 1892, and Thomas Edison and his colleague William Kennedy Laurie Dickson discovered that if you spun sequential photographs in a small box, you could create the illusion of movement. Edison called them Kinetoscopes, and these viewing booths were the iPhones of their day, a private experience where patrons paid to watch short movies of a giddy girl kissing a mustachioed man, of a dancer swirling her dress and of a weightlifter flexing his muscles.

 
 
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