By Hannah Evans
When asked to name the inventor of the motion picture camera, one would be forgiven for initially thinking of Thomas Edison.
The well known “Wizard of Menlo Park” is credited with many advancements in modern technology, but he also proved to be a fierce defender of patents, sometimes for his own inventions and sometimes for those he had the finances and legal power to ruthlessly stake claim to in court, even when another lesser-known person may have beat him to the punch.
The story of Louis Le Prince is a fascinating tale behind some of Edison’s strong-arming, detailed extensively in Paul Fischer’s new nonfiction book, “The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures: a True Tale of Obsession, Murder, and the Movies” (2022, Simon & Schuster).
Le Prince spent years obsessing over his idea of the motion picture, dedicating his life and finances to creating the first video camera.
When describing the previously unknown medium of motion pictures to a patent examiner, Le Prince was apparently told, “Good thing for you we’re not still living in the age of (superstition and) witchcraft … or (you’d) have been first in line to be burned at the stake.”
As soon as Le Prince finally perfected his device, he boarded a train and was never seen or heard from again. Months later, Edison announced his newest invention to the world, a motion picture camera that worked in an eerily similar manner to Le Prince’s just-finished but yet-to-be-shared creation.
Fischer’s book painstakingly researches the trials and tribulations of creating moving film, which had hardly been imagined, as well as the struggles of protecting one’s work and the mystery surrounding Le Prince’s disappearance.
While dense, “The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures” seems to leave no stone unturned in the Le Prince saga, even taking detours such as outlining the strange and fascinating history of the home Elizabeth Le Prince-Whitley resided in while waiting for her inventor husband to return home. Check out “The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures” at your closest Denver Public Library location or as an e-book or e-audiobook on denverlibrary. org.
Summer of Adventure is Here!
The Denver Public Library’s Summer of Adventure program encourages youth from birth to 12th grade to grow, learn and have fun.
During the summer months, while not in school, students who lack access to learning opportunities lose anywhere between one to three months of reading and math skills. This phenomenon is called summer learning loss or summer slide.
The Summer of Adventure program provides youth with opportunities for informal learning and activities to help retain academic and social skills throughout the summer months. And best of all, it’s free!
Find more details and register for Summer of Adventure online at summerofadventure. org or at your closest Denver Public Library branch, and pick up your activity guide and registration prize any time in person.