Great Moments In Multimedia History( taken from: http://home.earthlink.net/~atomic_rom/moments.htm)
This chronology explores the origins and evolution of the components
that comprise modern-day multimedia. Seemingly disparate breakthroughs often
occurred within a period of months; as you'll discover, it's all about convergence.
(Some of these multimedia classics are available
for purchase from Amazon.com...just follow the links.)
- c. 15,000–13,000 BC—Prehistoric humans paint
images on the walls of their caves (including a narrative composition) in
the Grotte de Lascaux, France.
- c. 3500 BC—The roots of Western music are developed in Mesopotamia.
Future artifacts will include an undecipherable song carved in stone (800
- c. 3000 BC—Chinese entertainers use firelight to project silhouettes
of puppets onto a screen. Unfortunately for those watching these “shadow plays,”
popcorn is still confined to North America.
- c. 540 BC—Thespis of Attica introduces the actor (or protagonist)
to Greek drama, which until now had consisted of recitations and dancing by
a chorus. Further innovations are added by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides.
- 65 BC—Roman poet Lucretius discovers the persistence of vision. The
phenomenon (proved 230 years later by the Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy) allows
the eye to see a series of rapid stills as one moving image, the future basis
of motion pictures.
- 1435—Leone Alberti writes Della Pictura, a treatise on the
laws of perspective. The book systematizes the rules for drawing three-dimensional
scenes on two-dimensional planes.
- c. 1450—Johann Gutenberg invents movable type, allowing mass production
of documents. The history of art, music, and literature is too immense to
cover in this chronology, but let's just say we owe a lot to Marcel Duchamp,
the Beatles, and Shakespeare.
- 1702—The first English daily newspaper, The Daily Courant,
- 1771—England's Parliament formally concedes the right of journalists
to cover its proceedings.
- 1776—“The World Turn'd Upside Down.” The American
Colonies declare their independence from Great Britain. Mass production and
distribution of the Declaration of Independence and Thomas Paine's Common Sense (both based on writings by European
philosophers) help usher in a new era of personal freedom, one that stresses
public education and citizen involvement. While the transformation (even in
the United States) will take many years to reach its full potential, an informational
Rubicon has been crossed.
- 1791—The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom
of speech and freedom of the press.
Babbage conceives the first automatic digital computer, the Analytical
Engine. A working model is not built until 1991.
- 1837—Samuel Morse debuts the telegraph. The invention revolutionizes
the transmission of information.
- 1837—Louis Daguerre invents the daguerreotype, the first practical
form of photographic reproduction.
- 1839—Magazines begin publishing woodcuts and lithographs produced
- 1841—William Henry Fox Talbot patents the Calotype, a negative-positive
- 1843—Ada Byron, a mathematician and daughter of the famed poet, translates
an article on Babbage's Analytical Engine, and at Babbage's request, adds
her own extensive notes. She predicts that such machines might someday be
used to create graphics and compose music.
- 1848—Six U.S. newspapers pool their resources to establish The Associated
Press. The partnership is designed to help defray the huge expense of sending
news stories via telegraph.
- 1851—Sir David Brewster exhibits the Stereoscope at the Crystal Palace
in London. Queen Victoria is amused. Over the next 70 years, the three-dimensional
picture viewer (think View-Master) will become as ubiquitous in households
as television is today.
- 1855—Roger Fenton photographs the Crimean
War, but the pictures remain unseen by the general public because newspapers
cannot yet publish photos.
- 1858—Europe and North America are briefly linked by a transatlantic
telegraph cable; by 1866, the system is up to stay. News that once took months
to travel now takes seconds.
- 1875—The Associated Press leases its own telegraph line (from New
York to Washington, D.C.), over the objections of Western Union. The link
allows AP to move news more quickly and efficiently.
- 1876—Alexander Graham Bell makes the first phone call. Pizza is still
another 75 years away.
- 1877—Thomas Alva Edison invents the Phonograph.
He also cuts the first recording, a soulful rendition of “Mary had a Little Lamb.”
- 1878—Inventors in the U.S. and Germany debut the dynamic microphone.
- 1879—How about a light? Edison invents the incandescent light bulb.
- 1880—While tabulating the 1880 U.S. census, statistician Herman Hollerith invents an electromechanical machine
that reads holes in perforated cards. In 1896 he founds the Tabulating Machine
Company, which later becomes International Business Machines Corporation.
- 1881—Development of the halftone process makes it possible to reproduce
photographs in books and newspapers.
- 1888—Now everyone gets the picture: George Eastman introduces the
Kodak camera and roll film.
- 1888—Edison and William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson debut the Kinetograph,
the world's first motion picture camera. It will be followed by the Kinetoscope
(1889) and the Vitascope (1896).
- 1889—Dickson demonstrates the Kinetophonograph to Edison. This device
synchronizes sound from a phonograph to images from a Kinetoscope. Never successfully
developed, synchronized sound will not make its debut for another 37 years.
- 1895—Louis and Auguste Lumiére make La Sortie des ouvriers de l'usine Lumiére à Lyon
(Workers Leaving the Lumiére Factory in Lyon), considered the first
motion picture. Also during this time, Georges Méliès invents stop motion
- 1898—Edison photographer William Paley films the Spanish-American
War in Cuba.
- 1900—Eastman introduces the Brownie, a one-dollar camera designed
- 1901—Guglielmo Marconi perfects a wireless radio system that transmits
Morse code over the Atlantic Ocean.
- 1902—Georges Méliès releases Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon),
his most famous film. Besides stop motion, he also pioneers the use of split
screens (you can blame him for Woodstock) and the dissolve.
- 1903—Edwin Porter releases The Great Train Robbery, which will popularize
- 1903—The fax machine is invented by German scientist Arthur Korn.
- 1906—Victor Talking Machine Company introduces the Victrola. RCA
will buy the company (and its Little Nipper dog, too) in 1929.
- 1906—James Stuart Blackton introduces animation to film with his
short Humorous Phases of Funny Faces.
- 1912—David Sarnoff, a Marconi wireless operator in New York, receives
the SOS from the sinking Titanic. He stays at his post for three days,
receiving and passing on news of the disaster. Promoted by the Marconi Company,
Sarnoff will go on to create RCA, and its spinoff, NBC.
- 1914—The teletype is introduced. Journalism is no longer predicated
on the knowledge of Morse Code.
- 1914—Winsor McCay popularizes animation with
his Gertie the Dinosaur (consisting of 10,300 separate drawings). McKay
would sometimes make appearances during showings of the film and “interact”
with his creation.
- 1915—Transcontinental telephone service is established between New
York and San Francisco.
- 1915—D.W. Griffith releases The Birth of a Nation, the first modern film.
Moving camera shots and close-ups are just two of the film's many innovations.
- 1916—Griffith follows up with Intolerance. The film eschews traditional
linear narrative, instead intercutting between four different storylines.
This editing technique would have a profound effect on subsequent filmmakers,
particularly Sergei Eisenstein.
- 1919—Robert Wiene releases The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The sets are
designed by German Expressionist artists.
- 1920—KDKA-AM Pittsburgh signs on the air. Still running,
it's the world's first commercial radio station, and the first to present
news, reporting results of the 1920 Harding-Cox presidential race.
- 1920—“Whispering” by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra becomes
the first record to sell one million copies.
- 1925—Potemkin is released. Director Sergei Eisenstein
pioneers montage, an editing technique that juxtaposes successive images to
stir up an audience's emotional response.
- 1926—J.L. Baird demonstrates the first practical television system
(based on a spinning mechanical disc created in 1884 by German scientist Paul
Nipkow). Baird debuts the first color TV two years later.
- 1926—American Telephone & Telegraph's Vitaphone system allows
synchronization of sound and film. Warner Brothers releases Don Juan, the first full-length motion picture
to incorporate recorded music and sound effects.
- 1927—“You ain't
heard nothin' yet!” The Jazz Singer is the first film to feature
spoken dialogue. (Clip courtesy of the Al Jolson Society.)
- 1927—Telephone service is established between London and New York.
- 1927—Philo Farnsworth transmits the first electronic TV picture.
Bell Telephone Laboratories tests wireless TV broadcasts.
- 1928—Walt Disney debuts Steamboat Willie, the second short starring
a mouse named Mickey, and the first cartoon to use synchronized sound. Disney
writes the soundtrack with future Warner Brothers composer Carl Stalling.
- 1928—WGY in Schenectady, New York becomes the first experimental
- 1935—The Associated Press introduces the Wirephoto, allowing newspapers
to receive photos almost as soon as they are developed, instead of waiting
for them to arrive in the mail.
- 1935—Germany begins airing regular public TV broadcasts.
- 1937–1942—John Atanasoff develops the Atanasoff-Berry Computer,
or ABC, the first electronic digital computer.
- 1937—“Oh, the humanity!” As the German zeppelin
Hindenburg explodes above Lakehurst, New Jersey,
Herbert Morrison delivers the first-ever coast-to-coast broadcast on U.S.
radio. Orson Welles takes note; Led Zeppelin gets a cool album cover.
- 1938—Orson Welles scares the daylights out of America. His radio
adaptation of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds realistically simulates
news coverage of an invasion by hostile Martians (simply looking for a little
lebensraum). Thousands fall for the hoax; panic ensues. The next day, Welles
feigns surprise at the uproar.
- 1938—Speaking of strange visitors from other
planets, Superman makes his debut. The Man of Steel (along with Batman and
numerous other champions) will first help popularize comic books, and then
punch their way into the cultural mainstream. Face it: most of us know more
about Jor-El and Lara than we do about George Washington's parents.
- 1939—“Who's on first?” Major league baseball debuts on television,
as the Brooklyn Dodgers take on the Cincinnati Reds at Ebbets Field. However,
the first televised baseball game is actually broadcast several months earlier,
as Princeton defeats Columbia. Due to the use of a single stationary camera,
viewers can only see the action around home plate.
- 1940—Walt Disney releases Fantasia, often regarded as the high-water
mark of animation.
- 1940—Dorothy Kunhardt's Pat the Bunny is published. A simple book
employing multimedia and interactivity, it will teach millions of children
to think outside of the box.
- 1941—Orson Welles releases Citizen Kane, a skillful blending of varied
media. Hollywood barely notices, but it will eventually be deemed the greatest
film of all time.
- 1941—Both NBC and CBS launch commercial television stations in New
York City; however, the effort will be largely put on hold during World War
- 1941–1945—U.S. involvement in World War Two. Great leaps forward
are made in communications and computer technologies. Disney uses animation
to illustrate complex subjects in technical training films.
- 1945—In an article in The Atlantic Monthly, Vannevar Bush proposes “memex,” a proto-hypertext/encyclopedia
- 1947—Edwin Land debuts the Polaroid instant camera.
- 1948—The transistor is invented at Bell Telephone Laboratories.
- 1948—Columbia Records introduces the 33 1/3 RPM vinyl record (also
known as the long-playing record, or LP).
- 1949—RCA counters with the 45 RPM record (also known as the single).
- Early 1950s—Computer technology is used in flight simulators; arguably
the first application of computer interactivity.
- 1950—Ernie Kovacs makes a quantum leap from radio to television.
During the next 12 years, he will poke, prod and rewrite the rules, literally
knocking on America's TV screens.
- 1951—The first U.S. coast-to-coast television broadcast takes place
as President Harry S. Truman addresses the opening of the Japanese Peace Treaty
Conference in San Francisco.
- 1952—Bwana Devil, the first 3-D film
using polarized lenses, is released.
- 1953—Ian Fleming introduces superspy James
Bond in Casino Royale. In 1962, 007 will make the transition from literature
to the big screen, becoming the most successful fictional character ever.
For our purposes, the Bond movies represent the establishment of film as a
mass-marketable commodity, launching everything from toys and cologne to current-day
product tie-ins such as Omega watches and BMW automobiles.
- 1956—The Picturephone is first tested at Bell Telephone Laboratories.
- 1959—Debut of the integrated circuit.
- 1962—Telstar, the first communications satellite (based on an idea
by writer Arthur C. Clarke) is launched into orbit. The first satellite telecast
soon follows, including part of a baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and
the Philadelphia Phillies.
- 1962–1970—The Beatles revolutionize the way music is recorded in
the studio, using increasingly complex sound and tape effects. The innovations
are not only sonic: their many films and promotional clips, especially Help! (directed by Richard Lester) and Magical Mystery Tour (directed by the band)
virtually invent the modern music video.
- 1965—IBM introduces the word processor.
- 1966—Rock bands begin to add visual effects to their performances,
most notably the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead in San Francisco,
and the Pink Floyd in London.
- 1967—Pop music and pop art converge on the
Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The
concept album's packaging features a ground-breaking cover, lyrics to the
songs, a decorative inner sleeve (instead of one hawking other releases),
and a cut-out sheet that includes a groovy moustache.
- 1968—Stanley Kubrick releases 2001: A Space Odyssey. Based on a short story
by Arthur C. Clarke, the film was the first to portray realistic space flight,
and has much to say on the dehumanizing influences of technology. Among 2001's
more questionable predictions are a financially healthy Pan Am and Picturephones
- 1969—The U.S. effort to land a man on the
moon and return him safely to Earth pays off handsomely. Technology spinoffs
include laptop computers, small solid-state lasers (which lead to Compact
Discs), cordless power tools, solar power cells, liquid crystals, and Tang.
- 1969—Yellow Submarine is released, featuring the
eponymous Tang-colored submersible. The animated film blends a variety of
artistic styles with the music of the Beatles. The accompanying marketing
blitz puts psychedelic art on main street.
- 1969—ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet, is established by the
U.S. Department of Defense.
- 1969—Nonlinearity meets the masses: Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five is published. In true
multimedia fashion, the work will be presented as a film (1972) and a CD-ROM (1994).
- 1969—At a school demonstration, the author of this chronology hears
how the Picturephone will soon change his life. He's still waiting.
- 1971—Computer engineer Ray Tomlinson sends the first e-mail message:
most likely, it “was QWERTYIOP or something similar.” Tomlinson also designates
@ as the locator symbol for electronic addresses.
- 1972—The Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game system, is released.
- 1972—Nolan Bushnell and Atari introduce Pong, the
first coin-operated video game.
- 1974—MITS releases the first successful personal computer. The Altair
is named for a planet from the Star Trek television series (or is the
planet later named for the computer?). It uses Intel Corporation's 8080 microprocessor,
also developed in 1974. The PC will not really catch on until the advent of
the Apple II.
- 1975—Bill Gates
and Paul Allen adapt
BASIC to run on the Altair 8800, and sell the interpreter to MITS. It's the
first computer language program written for the PC. By the end of November,
the duo's new company has a name: Micro-soft.
- 1976—Personal computing's other two wunderkinder,
Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs form Apple (the name is licensed from
- 1977—The Sex Pistols quickly deconstruct the bloated rock
ethos of the ‘70s; then they deconstruct themselves.
- 1977—The Apple II changes everything. It's the first PC to use color
- 1977—Beatlemania opens on Broadway. This multimedia show juxtaposes
the music of the Beatles (played by four impersonators) with film clips, photographs,
and news headlines from the 1960s.
- 1979—The first commercial cellular phone system begins operation
- 1980—Pink Floyd performs The Wall. The shows (limited to only four cities) incorporate music,
animations, giant puppets, a 35-foot wall, and the obligatory inflatable pig.
A film interpretation of the album follows in 1982.
- 1981—MTV debuts.
- 1981—IBM releases its first PC.
- 1982—Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan becomes the
first film to utilize an all-digital computer graphic sequence (used to depict
the “Genesis Effect”).
- 1982—Can you say cyberpunk? Ridley Scott releases Blade Runner.
- 1983—The Compact Disc is introduced.
- 1983—The Internet as we know it is created on January 1st when a
standard networking protocol (TCP/IP) is adopted by all ARPANET users.
- 1984—“They'll never let me forget it.” William Gibson coins the term
“cyberspace” in his novel Neuromancer.
- 1984—Apple unveils the Macintosh during Superbowl
XVIII. The now-classic commercial (directed by an Orwell-inspired Ridley Scott)
is a thinly-veiled broadside at IBM. The Mac also introduces the general public
to the mouse.
- 1985—Microsoft Windows version 1.0 hits the streets.
- 1985—The Commodore Amiga combines advanced graphics, sound and video
capabilities to create the first true multimedia computer.
- 1986—The Academic American Encyclopedia becomes the first
- 1988—Macromind (now Macromedia) releases Director, a multimedia authoring
- 1989—British physicist Tim Berners-Lee
proposes a global hypertext system, the World Wide Web. During the next few
years, he will develop the standards for URL, HTML, and HTTP.
- 1991—ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US. Zero
Wing, an obscure 1989 Japanese video game, is released for the Sega Genesis
game system. Its badly mistranslated introduction will one day rule the world.
For great justice.
- 1991—The World Wide Web makes its debut on the Internet.
- 1991—James Cameron releases Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The film sets
a new standard for the use of computer-generated special effects.
- 1991—The MP3 digital audio compression format is invented at the
Fraunhofer Institute, a German research lab.
- 1992—MS Windows version 3.1 is released.
- 1992—Hypertext markup language (HTML), debuts, giving anyone with
an interest the tools to build their own Web page.
- 1993—Mosaic, the first graphical Web browser, is released.
- 1993—Wired makes its debut. The magazine, which chronicles
the growing cyberculture, bends many traditional graphic design rules.
- 1994—Broderbund releases Myst, the first successful interactive 3-D
computer game. To date, it has sold more than seven million copies.
- 1995—Windows 95 creates a public hysteria unseen since Orson Welles'
1938 War of the Worlds broadcast.
- 1995—RealAudio brings streaming audio to Web users. Streaming video
- 1995—Disney releases Toy Story, the first feature-length movie
totally comprised by computer graphics. The 77-minute film takes four years
to make, and 800,000 machine hours to render.
- 1996—Affordable digital cameras (another spin-off from the U.S. space
program) become widely available.
- 1996—Fifty million channels and nothin' on. JenniCAM debuts. She
and thousands of successors redefine the way people look at the Web...and
- 1996—WRAL-HD in Raleigh, North Carolina becomes the first
commercial high-definition TV station in the U.S.
- 1996—DVD video is introduced; full-length movies are now distributed
on a single CD. The DVD format also promises to transform the music, gaming
and computer industries.
- 1998—Diamond Multimedia introduces the Rio PMP 300, the first portable
- 1999—http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/ becomes the poster
child for distributed Internet computing. Set up by the University of California
at Berkeley to search for signs of extraterrestrial communication, the project
uses millions of volunteer computers to create a low-cost supercomputer.
- 1999—Napster debuts, allowing users to download (and share)
their favorite MP3s. The service puts peer-to-peer computing on the map, enabling
individual computers to interact with each other, instead of downloading from
a centralized server. Napster also becomes the focal point in a battle royal
over copyright and intellectual property in the wired age.
- 2000—Postmodern humans project images on the walls
of their pyramids. For one magical night, we all party like it's 1999, and
the world really does seem like a smaller place. Unless you went to bed early.