The Inventions of Birt Acres

On the far left is a schematic for the kinetic camera that Acres patented in May 1895, about a month before he broke with R.W. Paul. Like the Lumière cinématographe, it was both a camera and projector, but it was nearly a year before Acres used it to give the first public performance of a projected film in England (in January 1896), suggesting that the apparatus (also known as the kinetic lantern) didn’t work as well as he had hoped. By March 1896, Acres had separated camera and projector and developed a projection-only machine that he called the kineopticon, a name that also became attached to an experimental camera designed in 1897-1898 (second from left). This camera, in turn, became the model for the Birtac—a miniature camera launched in 1898 for home moviemaking (far right). It used 17.5mm film (which was actually 35mm film split down the middle) and, with a light source attached and the lens reversed, could also double as a projector (second from right).

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