What We Almost Called the Movie Projector

Matthew Battles over at Gear Fuse points out an amazing New York Times article from 1898 that lists some of the names people used to refer to emerging motion-picture technologies. They are just outstanding, for example: animaloscope, cinnomonograph, katoptiikum, lobsterscope, mutoscope, phenakistoscope, vivrescope, xograph. And they remind us that what we call the technologies we use is as contingent as the technologies themselves.

It's a vibrant lexical bestiary of images, actions, and ideals: time, light, vitality, movement, judgment, change, vision, epiphany, and the animal world. Although the writer of this piece talks about a single machine, these weren't all names for the same thing; moving pictures emerged in a radiant bouquet of formats, modes of presentation, and proprietary media. The names are evocative of another time--and taken together, they express a condition familiar to us all.

Read the full story at Gear Fuse.

Presented by

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis. The only problem? He has to prove it works.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Technology

Just In