Edison Kinetoscope, 1894.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Detail of spooling mechanism. Invented by Thomas Alva Edison's Scottish employee, William Dickson (1860-1935), the Kinetoscope was the first device to show motion pictures. Looking through the eyepiece at the top of the machine, the viewer saw about 20 seconds of film, which pased through in a continuous loop. Kinetoscope parlours offering a choice of films first opened in New York on 14 April 1894 and in London on 18 October 1894. However, they did not survive the introduction of cinema by the Lumiere brothers in Paris a year later, mainly because cinema could be viewed communally.