Thomas Armat

Last updated
Thomas J. Armat
Born(1866-10-25)October 25, 1866
Fredericksburg, Virginia
Died September 30, 1948(1948-09-30) (aged 81)
Washington, DC
Known for Vitascope

Thomas J. Armat (October 25, 1866 – September 30, 1948) was an American mechanic and inventor, a pioneer of cinema best known through the co-invention of the Edison Vitascope.

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The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

An inventor is a person who creates or discovers a new method, form, device or other useful means that becomes known as an invention. The word inventor comes from the Latin verb invenire, invent-, to find. The system of patents was established to encourage inventors by granting limited-term, limited monopoly on inventions determined to be sufficiently novel, non-obvious, and useful. Although inventing is closely associated with science and engineering, inventors are not necessarily engineers nor scientists.

Film sequence of images that give the impression of movement

A film, also called a movie, motion picture, moving picture, or photoplay, is a series of still images that, when shown on a screen, create the illusion of moving images.

Contents

Biography

Armat studied at the Mechanics Institute in Richmond, Virginia and then in 1894 at the Bliss Electrical School in Washington, D.C., where he met Charles Francis Jenkins. The two classmates teamed up to develop a movie projector using a new kind of intermittent motion mechanism, a "beater mechanism" similar to the one patented 1893 by Georges Demenÿ in France. It was one of the first projectors using what is known as the Latham loop (an extra loop of the film before the transport mechanism to reduce the tension on the film and avoid film breakage, developed independently at the same time by Woodville Latham and his sons). They made their first public projection using their invention, named Phantoscope after an earlier model designed by Jenkins alone, in September 1895 at the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta.

Richmond, Virginia Capital of Virginia

Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. It is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and the Greater Richmond Region. Richmond was incorporated in 1742 and has been an independent city since 1871.

Washington, D.C. Capital of the United States

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, first President of the United States and Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.

Charles Francis Jenkins American inventor and pioneer of cinema and television

Charles Francis Jenkins was an American pioneer of early cinema and one of the inventors of television, though he used mechanical rather than electronic technologies. His businesses included Charles Jenkins Laboratories and Jenkins Television Corporation. Over 400 patents were issued to Jenkins, many for his inventions related to motion pictures and television.

Following this success, the two co-inventors broke up over patent issues. Jenkins tried to claim sole inventorship, but was turned down and sold out to Armat, who subsequently joined and sold the patent to Thomas Edison, who marketed the machine as the 'Vitascope'. The projector was used in a public screening in New York City beginning April 23, 1896 and lasting more than a week.

Patent set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee so that he has a temporary monopoly

A patent is a form of intellectual property. A patent gives its owner the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, and importing an invention for a limited period of time, usually twenty years. The patent rights are granted in exchange for an enabling public disclosure of the invention. In most countries patent rights fall under civil law and the patent holder needs to sue someone infringing the patent in order to enforce his or her rights. In some industries patents are an essential form of competitive advantage; in others they are irrelevant.

Thomas Edison American inventor and businessman

Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman, who has been described as America's greatest inventor. He is credited with developing many devices in fields such as electric power generation, mass communication, sound recording, and motion pictures. These inventions, which include the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the long-lasting, practical electric light bulb, had a widespread impact on the modern industrialized world. He was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and teamwork to the process of invention, working with many researchers and employees. He is often credited with establishing the first industrial research laboratory.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States and thus also in the state of New York. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Working for Edison, Armat refined the projector in 1897 by replacing the beater mechanism with a more precise Geneva drive, duplicating an invention made a year earlier in Germany by Oskar Messter and Max Griewe and in England by Robert William Paul.

Geneva drive Mechanism that transforms continuous rotation into an intermittent rotary motion

The Geneva drive or Maltese cross is a gear mechanism that translates a continuous rotation movement into intermittent rotary motion.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Oskar Messter German cinema pioneer

Oskar Messter was a German inventor and film tycoon in the early years of cinema. His firm Messter Film was one of the dominant German producers before the rise of UFA, into which it was ultimately merged.

In 1947, Armat and William Nicholas Selig, Albert Edward Smith and George Kirke Spoor were awarded a Special Academy Award as representatives of the movie pioneers for their contributions to the film business.

William Nicholas Selig American actor

William Nicholas Selig was a pioneer of the American motion picture industry. In 1896 he created one of the first film production companies, Selig Polyscope Company of Chicago. By 1908, he established one of the first major studios in Los Angeles.

George Kirke Spoor American film producer

George Kirke Spoor was an early film pioneer who, with Gilbert M. "Broncho Billy" Anderson, founded Essanay Studios in Chicago in 1907. He was a founding partner of V-L-S-E, Incorporated, a film distribution firm, in 1915.

Academy Awards American awards given annually for excellence in cinematic achievements

The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, are a set of awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry, given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), to recognize excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy's voting membership. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a golden statuette, officially called the "Academy Award of Merit", although more commonly referred to by its nickname "Oscar". The award was originally sculpted by George Stanley from a design sketch by Cedric Gibbons. AMPAS first presented it in 1929 at a private dinner hosted by Douglas Fairbanks in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

He died on September 30, 1948. [1]

In 2011, he was inducted, posthumously, into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. [2]

National Inventors Hall of Fame Award

The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) is an American not-for-profit organization which recognizes individual engineers and inventors who hold a U.S. patent of highly significant technology. Founded in 1973, its primary mission is to "honor the people responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social and economic progress possible." Besides the Hall of Fame, it also operates a museum in Alexandria, Virginia, and a former middle school in Akron, Ohio, and sponsors educational programs, a collegiate competition, and special projects all over the United States to encourage creativity among students.

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Auguste and Louis Lumière French filmmakers

The Lumière brothers, Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas and Louis Jean, were among the first filmmakers in history. They patented an improved cinematograph, which in contrast to Thomas Edison's "peepshow" kinetoscope allowed simultaneous viewing by multiple parties.

The Motion Picture Patents Company, founded in December 1908 and terminated seven years later in 1915 after conflicts within the industry, was a trust of all the major US film companies and local foreign-branches, the leading film distributor and the biggest supplier of raw film stock, Eastman Kodak. The MPPC ended the domination of foreign films on US screens, standardized the manner in which films were distributed and exhibited within the US, and improved the quality of US motion pictures by internal competition. But it also discouraged its members' entry into feature film production, and the use of outside financing, both to its members' eventual detriment.

William Kennedy Dickson Scottish photographer and inventor of motion picture cameras

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The following is an overview of the events of 1895 in film, including a list of films released and notable births.

The following is an overview of the events of 1896 in film, including a list of films released and notable births.

Kinetoscope motion picture exhibition device

The Kinetoscope is an early motion picture exibition device. The Kinetoscope was designed for films to be viewed by one individual at a time through a peephole viewer window at the top of the device. The Kinetoscope was not a movie projector, but introduced the basic approach that would become the standard for all cinematic projection before the advent of video, by creating the illusion of movement by conveying a strip of perforated film bearing sequential images over a light source with a high-speed shutter. A process using roll film first described in a patent application submitted in France and the U.S. by French inventor Louis Le Prince, the concept was also used by U.S. inventor Thomas Edison in 1889, and subsequently developed by his employee William Kennedy Laurie Dickson between 1889 and 1892. Dickson and his team at the Edison lab also devised the Kinetograph, an innovative motion picture camera with rapid intermittent, or stop-and-go, film movement, to photograph movies for in-house experiments and, eventually, commercial Kinetoscope presentations.

Edwin S. Porter American film director

Edwin Stanton Porter was an American film pioneer, most famous as a producer, director, studio manager and cinematographer with the Edison Manufacturing Company and the Famous Players Film Company. Of over 250 films created by Porter, his most important include Jack and the Beanstalk (1902), Life of an American Fireman (1903), The Great Train Robbery (1903), The Kleptomaniac (1905), Life of a Cowboy (1906), Rescued from an Eagle's Nest (1908), and The Prisoner of Zenda (1913).

Cinematograph motion picture film camera which also serves as a projector and printer

A cinematograph is a motion picture film camera, which also serves as a film projector and printer. It was invented in the 1890s in Lyon by Auguste and Louis Lumière.

Major Woodville Latham (1837–1911) was an ordnance officer of the Confederacy during the American Civil War and professor of chemistry at West Virginia University. He was significant in the development of early film technology.

Eugène Augustin Lauste was a French inventor instrumental in the technological development of the history of cinema.

Vitascope An early film projector first demonstrated in 1895 by Charles Francis Jenkins and Thomas Armat.

Vitascope was an early film projector first demonstrated in 1895 by Charles Francis Jenkins and Thomas Armat. They had made modifications to Jenkins patented Phantoscope, which cast images via film and electric light onto a wall or screen. The Vitascope is a large electrically-powered projector that uses light to cast images. The images being cast are originally taken by a kinetoscope mechanism onto gelatin film. Using an intermittent mechanism, the film negatives produced up to fifty frames per second. The shutter opens and closes to reveal new images. This device can produce up to 3,000 negatives per minute. With the original Phantoscope and before he partnered with Armat, Jenkins displayed the earliest documented projection of a filmed motion picture in June 1894 in Richmond, Indiana.

The decade of the 1890s in film involved some significant events.

Latham loop

The Latham Loop is used in film projection and image capture. It isolates the filmstrip from vibration and tension, allowing movies to be continuously shot and projected for extended periods.

Phantoscope

The Phantoscope was a film projection machine, a creation of Charles Francis Jenkins. Created in the early 1890s, he projected the first motion picture before an audience in his hometown of Richmond, Indiana on June 6, 1894. He later met Thomas Armat who provided financial backing for necessary modifications. The two inventors unveiled their modified projector at the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia, in September 1895.

History of film technology

The history of film technology traces the development of film technology from the initial development of "moving pictures" at the end of 19th century to the present time. Motion pictures were initially exhibited as a fairground novelty and developed into one of the most important tools of communication and entertainment in the 20th century. Major developments in motion picture technology have included the adoption of synchronized motion picture sound, color motion picture film, and the adoption of digital film technologies to replace physical film stock at both ends of the production chain by digital image sensors and projectors.

Edward H. Amet American inventor

Edward Hill Amet was an American inventor and electrical engineer, best known for his contributions to the early motion picture industry. His magniscope, first marketed in 1894, was one of the first devices that projected moving pictures on vertical surfaces. Along with George Kirke Spoor, Amet produced a series of war films.

References

  1. "Thomas Armat, 81, A Pioneer in Films. Inventor of Vitascope Projector Attributed to Edison, Dies in Capital". New York Times . October 1, 1948. Retrieved 2008-07-16. Thomas Armat, a pioneer in the motion-picture industry, died today at his home. ...
  2. National Inventors Hall of Fame Archived 2012-09-22 at the Wayback Machine .