On this day:
1909 – Kinemacolor, the first successful color motion picture process, is first shown to the general public at the Palace Theatre in London.
Kinemacolor was the first successful color motion picture process, used commercially from 1908 to 1914. It was invented by George Albert Smith of Brighton, England in 1906. He was influenced by the work of William Norman Lascelles Davidson and, more directly, Edward Raymond Turner. It was launched by Charles Urban’s Urban Trading Co. of London in 1908. From 1909 on, the process was known as Kinemacolor. It was a two-color additive color process, photographing and projecting a black-and-white film behind alternating red and green filters.
“How to Make and Operate Moving Pictures” published by Funk and Wagnalls in 1917 notes the following:
Of the many attempts to produce cinematograph pictures… the greatest amount of attention so far has been attracted by a system invented by George Albert Smith, and commercially developed by Charles Urban under the name of “Kinemacolor.” In this system (to quote from Cassell’s Cyclopædia of Photography, edited by the editor of this present book), only two colour filters are used in taking the negatives and only two in projecting the positives. The camera resembles the ordinary cinematographic camera except that it runs at twice the speed, taking thirty-two images per second instead of sixteen, and it is fitted with a rotating colour filter in addition to the ordinary shutter. This filter is an aluminium skeleton wheel… having four segments, two open ones, G and H; one filled in with red-dyed gelatine, E F; and the fourth containing green-dyed gelatine, A B. The camera is so geared that exposures are made alternately through the red gelatine and the green gelatine. Panchromatic film is used, and the negative is printed from in the ordinary way, and it will be understood that there is no colour in the film itself.
The first motion picture exhibited in Kinemacolor was an eight-minute short filmed in Brighton titled A Visit to the Seaside, which was trade shown in September 1908. On 26 February 1909, the general public first saw Kinemacolor in a programme of twenty-one short films shown at the Palace Theatre in London. The process was first seen in the United States on 11 December 1909, at an exhibition staged by Smith and Urban at Madison Square Garden in New York.
In 1910, Kinemacolor released the first dramatic film made in the process, Checkmated. The company then produced the documentary films With Our King and Queen Through India (also known as The Durbar at Delhi, 1912), and the notable recovery of £750,000 worth of gold and silver bullion from the wreck of P&O’s SS Oceana in the Strait of Dover (1912). With Our King and Queen Through India and the dramas The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1914), and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1914) were the first three feature films made in color. Unfortunately, these latter two features were also among the last films released by Kinemacolor.
Success and decline
Kinemacolor enjoyed the most commercial success in the UK where, between 1909 and 1918, it was shown at more than 250 entertainment venues. The system was made available to exhibitors either by licence or from 1913 through a series of touring companies. Although in most cases the system stayed at licensed venues for only a few months there were instances where it remained at a hall for up to two years. 54 dramatic films were produced. Four dramatic short films were also produced by Kinemacolor in the United States in 1912–1913, and one in Japan, Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura (1914).
However, the company was never a success, partly due to the expense of installing special Kinemacolor projectors in cinemas. Also, the process suffered from “fringing” and “haloing” of the images, an unsolvable problem as long as Kinemacolor remained a successive frame process. Kinemacolor in the U.S. became most notable for its Hollywood studio being taken over by D. W. Griffith, who also took over Kinemacolor’s failed plans to film Thomas Dixon’s The Clansman, which eventually became The Birth of a Nation (1915).
The first (additive) version of Prizma Color, developed by William Van Doren Kelley in the U.S. from 1913 to 1917, used some of the same principles as Kinemacolor. In the U.K., William Friese-Greene developed another additive color system for film called Biocolour. However, in 1914 George Albert Smith sued Friese-Greene for infringing Kinemacolor’s patents, slowing the development of Biocolour by Friese-Greene and his son Claude in the 1920s.
In 2012, the National Media Museum in Bradford, England publicized its digital restoration of some very early three-color alternating-filter test films, dated to 1902, made by Edward Raymond Turner. They are believed to be the earliest existing color movie footage. Turner’s process, for which Charles Urban had provided financial backing, was adapted by Smith after Turner’s sudden death in 1903, and this in turn became Kinemacolor.
Born on this day:
1903 – Giulio Natta, Italian chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1979)
Giulio Natta (26 February 1903 – 2 May 1979) was an Italian chemist and Nobel laureate. He won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1963 with Karl Ziegler for work on high polymers. He was also a recipient of Lomonosov Gold Medal in 1969.
Natta was born in Imperia, Italy. He earned his degree in chemical engineering from the Politecnico di Milano university in Milan in 1924. In 1927 he passed the exams for becoming a professor there. In 1933 he became a full professor and the director of the Institute of General Chemistry of Pavia University, where he stayed until 1935. In that year he was appointed full professor in physical chemistry at the University of Rome.
From 1936 to 1938 he moved as a full professor and director of the Institute of Industrial Chemistry at the Polytechnic Institute of Turin. In 1938 he took over as the head of the Department of chemical engineering at the Politecnico di Milano university, in a somewhat controversial manner, when his predecessor Mario Giacomo Levi was forced to step down because of racial laws against Jews being introduced in Fascist Italy.
Natta’s work at Politecnico di Milano led to the improvement of earlier work by Karl Ziegler and to the development of the Ziegler-Natta catalyst. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1963 with Karl Ziegler for their research in high polymers.
In 1935 Natta married Rosita Beati, a woman of great culture and sensitivity, who helped his career in many ways. A graduate in literature, she coined the terms “isotactic”, “atactic” and “syndiotactic” for polymers discovered by her husband. They had two sons, Giuseppe and Franca. Beati died in 1968.
Natta was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1956. By 1963, his condition had progressed to the point that he required the assistance of his son and four colleagues to present his speech at the Nobel ceremonies in Stockholm. Prof. Natta died in Bergamo, Italy at age 76.
infoplease: Delaware Aqueduct
Delaware Aqueduct (dĕlˈəwâr, –wər) [key], SE N.Y., 85 mi (137 km) long, carrying water from the Rondout Reservoir, Sullivan co., SE into the New York City water system at the Hillview Reservoir, Westchester co.; built 1937–62. The tunnel taps the Delaware River basin and supplies more than half of New York City’s water. The aqueduct’s deep, gravity-flow construction requires little maintenance. The Rondout Reservoir receives water from other Delaware basin reservoirs through a tunnel system. In 1965 the aqueduct was extended; its total distance is now 105 mi (170 km).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.