inexpensive booklet contains a listing of some 300 kinora
reels (60 frame enlargements), illustrations of the various
viewers, and a history of the Kinora system.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for details of how to
obtain a copy.
The Kinora was a miniature mutoscope ("flip-book"
principle viewer) intended for home use. While the Lumiere
brothers were working flat out developing their
Cinematographe camera/projector in 1895, they were also
developing the Kinora. They had no way of knowing that
they were "inventing" cinema (a bunch of people in a dark
hall watching films projected on a screen), only that they
were creating a moving picture machine. This technology
could have taken off in a number of directions in terms of
exhibition: (in arcades, or in the home).
So the Lumiere brothers 'hedged their bets' with the
Kinora home mutoscope viewing machine, patented in Feb
1896. The Kinora was a development of an idea already
patented by Casler (of American Mutoscope & Biograph fame)
As it happened, their 'cinema' projections were very
successful, and they didn't bother with the Kinora. A few
years later they passed on the idea to Gaumont, who
marketed it in France around 1900, with approximately 100
reels available (subjects by Lumiere and others).
Around 1902, versions of the viewer were launched in
Britain and it eventually became successful; over a dozen
different models of the viewer were made, and something
like 600 different reels were available. The apparatus was
cheap, easy to use, and non-flammable. A studio was set up
to take private motion portraits in London, and eventually
home movie cameras (using unperforated paper negatives)
The Kinora allowed the middle classes to see motion
pictures at home, before it was socially acceptable to visit
the cinema. In 1914, the factory burnt down and the system died.
The number of surviving machines and reels indicate
the popularity of the Kinora in Europe for around 15 years
before World War One, and yet there is no public
consciousness of this medium at all.
Viewing a reel in one of these machines is
extraordinary = the mechanism is so simple it is almost
non-existent, and yet the result is the same as
watching an ordinary movie or miniature TV.
Stephen Herbert (email@example.com)