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Early Motion-Picture Companies

company vitascope amusement field

A lthough “Edison’s vitascope” was the first successful screen machine in the American amusement field, competing projectors and enterprises began to appear within a month of its Koster & Bial’s debut. Even before this premiere, F. F. Proctor promised the imminent presentation of a mysterious "kintographe"—a promise he did not keep but one that told amusement-goers that the vitascope was not unique. 1 During the spring and summer of 1896, several other companies established themselves as leading enterprises in the field: the Eidoloscope Company, the Lumière firm, and the American Mutoscope Company. While organized somewhat differently, they shared underlying similarities with the Vitascope Company. Each one developed a complete motion-picture system, built its own equipment (cameras as well as projectors), and acted as a self-sufficient entity. All four sought to control the exhibition as well as the production of their films. This was the characteristic structure of film companies in the initial stages of the novelty period.

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