Film 24: Screening the Machine

A Technology Timeline

SEE ALSO: Some Landmarks in Fictive Images of Technology(Web timeline for the representation of technology in literature)


Media History Timeline (1870's) from The Media History Project Web site

Media History Timeline (1880's) from The Media History Project Web site

Significant Developments in Cinema History through D.W. Griffith

1870's -- Eadweard Muybridge Motion Studies

(SEE ALSO the following Muybridge Web sites:

  • Muybridge Web site)
  • Kingston Museum
  • Pacific Interactive Media

  • 1879-1882 -- Etienne Marey, French inventor, develops a "gun" which will take sequential photographs of a subject in motion.

  • 1890's -- Auguste and Louis Lumiere cinematic studies

  • Lumiere Web site
  • Lumiere Brothers web site)

  • 1889 -- Edison Kinetoscope invented

  • background timeline on Edison's movie inventions;
  • Edison Home Page
  • Early Motion Picture site(Smithsonian)
  • Two early Edison shorts (Annabelle's Butterfly Dance and Serpentine Dance) (QuickTime clips)
  • Encarta article on the history of the movies


    Media History Timeline (1900s) from The Media History Project Web site

    Media History Timeline (1910s) from The Media History Project Web site

    Media History Timeline (1920s) from The Media History Project Web site

  • 1900 -- First International motor car race is from from Paris to Lyon. The winning car, a French Panhard-Levassor, averages 38.5 mph.

  • 1900 -- Orville and Wilber Wright fly their first glider over the dunes at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

  • 1900 -- Sigmund Freud publishes his "Interpretation of Dreams"

  • 1901-- Gramaphone record introduced

  • 1901 -- Nobel Prize for Physics awarded to Wilhelm Roentgen for his discovery of the X-ray

    1902 -- Voyage to the Moon (Georges Melies)

    1903 -- Great Train Robbery (Edwin S. Porter)

  • 1905 -- Einstein propounds his Special Theory of Relativity

  • 1905 -- Long Island Railroad becomes the first US railway to abandon steam completely in favor of electrification.

  • 1905-- Light bulbs using tungstun as the metal filament are introduced commercially.

    "I was born during the Age of Machines. A machine was a thing made up of distinguishable 'parts', organised in imitation of some function of the human body ...How a machine 'worked' was readily apparent to an adept, from inspection of the shape of its working parts...

    The cinema was the typical survival form of the Age of Machines. Together with still photographs, it performed prizeworthy functions: it taught and reminded us (after what then seemed a bearable delay) how things looked, how things worked, how we do things...and of course (by example) how to feel and think.

    We believed it would go on for ever, but when I was a little boy, the Age of Machines ended...

    Cinema is the Last Machine. It is probably the last art that will reach the mind through the senses."

    Hollis Framption. 1971. "For a Metahistory of Film." Artforum Sept., as quoted in Ian Christie's The Last Machine: Early Cinema and the Birth of the Modern World. London: British Film Institute, 1994. p 7.

  • 1907 -- First regular radio broadcasts begin.

  • 1908 -- Henri Farman, an Englishman living in France, makes the first cross-country flight, from Bouy to Reims; first two-man flight (Wilbur Wright and Charles Furnass)

  • 1910 -- Henry Ford sets up mass production of the Model T automobile. The annual production of Model T's will rocket from 18,000 in 1909 to two million in 1923.

  • 1912 -- The Titanic sinks

  • 1913 -- First domestic refrigerator goes on sale in Chicago.

  • 1915 -- First direct transatlantic radio-telephone transmission; speech is relayed from Canada to the Eiffel Tower

  • 1918 -- First electric motor powered food mixer and beater introduced in the US.

  • 1919 -- First dial telephone introduced by AT&T

  • 1919 -- First transatlantic airplane flight

  • 1920 -- First practical magnetic tape recording.

  • 1920 -- First reasonably-priced electric hand iron goes on sale.

  • 1921 -- Playwright Karel Capek coins the word "robot" in his play RUR

  • 1921 --First modern escalator is adopted by US department stores

    1922 -- The Electric House (Directed by Buster Keaton)

  • 1923 --First telephone call from Britain to the US

    "Mr. Ford, ladies and gentlemen, is not a human creature. He is a principle, or better, a relentless process. Away with waste and competitive captitalism. Our bread, butter, tables, chairs, beds, houses, and also our homebrew shall be made in Ford factories. There shall be one great Powerhouse for the entire land, and ultimately a greater one for the whole world. Mr. Ford, ladies and gentlemen, is not a man...Let him assemble us all into his machine. Let us be properly assembled. Let us function unanimously. Let the wheels turn more swiftly."

    Matthew Josephson. "Made in America." (1923) as quoted in Wollen, Peter. Raiding the Icebox: Reflections on Twentieth-Century Culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993. p 36

  • 1923 --Eastman Kodak introduces 16mm cameras and projectors

  • 1925--Early experiments by British physicist Edward Appleton lay the foundation for radar.

    1926 -- Metropolis (Directed by Fritz Lang; SEE ALSO: Lang biography from the Baseline Encyclopedia of Film )

  • 1926--First pop-up toaster invented in the US.

    Professor Butts walks in his sleep, strolls through a cactus field in his bare feet, and screams out an idea for self-operating napkin: As you raise spoon of soup (A) to your mouth it pulls string (B), thereby jerking ladle (C) which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E). Parrot jumps after cracker and perch (F) tilts, upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H). Extra weight in pail pulls cord (I), which opens and lights automatic cigar lighter (J), setting off sky-rocket (K) which causes sickle (L) to cut string (M) and allow pendulum with attached napkin to swing back and forth thereby wiping off your chin. After the meal, substitute a harmonica for the napkin and you'll be able to entertain the guests with a little music. (Rube Goldberg)

  • 1927 -- First "talking" motion picture, "The Jazz Singer," starring Al Jolson.

  • 1927 -- Philo Farnsworth, a Utah engineer, devises the first complete electronic TV system.

  • 1927 -- Ford Model A replaces Model T. Despite the Depression, 4.5 million Model A's are sold in four years.

  • 1927 -- First electric shaver designed by Joseph Schick

  • 1929 -- electric food waste disposer that fits into a kitchen sink is invented by J. Powers of General Electric

  • The 1930's

    Media History Timeline (1930s) from The Media History Project Web site

    The 1930's -- What's In


  • 1930 -- The British Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts the first television talkie with perfectly synchronized sight and sound

  • 1930 -- First domestic gas water heater introduced.

  • 1930 -- First packaged frozen food marketed

    1930 -- Just Imagine (Directed by William Butler)

  • 1931 -- First regular TV broadcasts begin in US

  • 1931 -- First use of penicillin in clinical practice, Sheffield, England

  • 1931 -- Inauguration of Empire State Building, tallest building in the world

  • 1932 -- 8 millimeter film introduced to consumer market

  • 1932 -- The atom is split for the first time by John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton in England; neturon is discovered by British physicist James Chadwick

  • 1933 -- Chicago Century of Progress World's Fair. The motto of the fair was: "Science Finds--Industry Applies--Man Conforms"

  • 1933 -- A new movement named Technocracy is founded in the US. Its members advocate that engineers should run a country, and that energy certificates should replace pay packets.

  • 1935 -- Nylon is patented

  • 1935 -- The magnetophone, the first commercial tape recorder, is marketed in Germany.

  • 1936 -- First fluorescent lighting tube is produced..

    1936 -- Things to Come (Directed by William Cameron Menzies)

  • 1937 -- Owens-Corning Co. producers first fiberglass on large scale.

  • 1939 -- New York World's Fair; San Francisco World's Fair (Treasure Island)

  • 1939 -- Pan American Air Lines inaugurates first regular commercial transatlantic service on its Boeing B314 (the "Yankee Clipper').

    The 1940's

    Media History Timeline (1940s) from The Media History Project Web site

  • 1941 -- Polyester fiber is discovered by E. Whinfield, in England

  • 1941 -- Plutonium is isolated at UC Berkeley by G. E. Seaborg and E.M. McMillan

  • 1942 -- USA's first jet plan, the XP-59, makes its maiden flight

    1942 -- Flying Tigers (Directed by David Miller)

  • 1943 -- World's first operational nuclear reactor built at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

    1943 -- Destination Tokyo (Directed by Delmer Daves)

    1944 -- Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (Directed by Mervyn LeRoy)

  • 1945 -- Alan Turing, Great Britain, developed pilot Automatic Computing Engine (AEC), most powerful and advanced computer to date; first time information can be randomly accessed and extracted.
    "Not until a machine can write a sonnet or compose a concerto because of thoughts and emotions felt, and not by the chance fall of symbols, could we agree that machine equals brain--that is, not only write it but know that it had written it. No mechanism could feel (and not merely artifically signal, an easy contrivance) pleasure at its successes, grief when it valves fust, be warmed by flattery, be made miserable by mistakes, be charmed by sex, by angry or depressed when it cannot get what it wants."

    --Alan Turing. "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" (1950) as quoted in Hardison, O.B. 1989. Disappearing Through the Skylight: Culture and Technology in the Twentieth Century. NY: Viking. p 344

  • 1945 -- Atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

  • 1946 -- RCA releases first non-breakable phonograph disc

  • 1946 -- a wholly new automatic electronic digital computer is built at the University of Pennsylvania to compute firing and ballistic tables for the US Defense Department. ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator) can complete up to 5,000 calculations per second. Input is via punch cards, and ENIAC's power consumption is so huge, that every time it is switched on the lights in the neighboring towns fail.

  • 1947 -- EVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer) is built at U Penn. It is the first machine capable of storing a flexible program which can be changed without revising the computer circuits.

  • 1948 -- Polaroid camera invented by Dr. Edwin Land.

  • 1948 -- Teflon is first commercially produced

  • The 1950's

    Media History Timeline (1950s) from The Media History Project Web site

    "One gets the feeling...that a mass trauma exists over the use of nuclear weapons and the possibility of future nuclear wars. Most of the science fiction films bear witness to this trauma, and, in a way, attempt to exorcise it. The accidental awakening of the super-destructive monster, who has slept in the earth since prehistory, is, often, and obvious metaphor for the Bomb. But there may be explicit references as well...Radiation casualties--ultimately, the conception of the whole world as a casualty of nulear testing and nuclear warfare--is the most ominous of all the notions with which science fiction films deal.""

    --Susan Sontag, "The Imagination of Disaster" as quoted in Broderick, Mick. 1991. Nuclear Movies. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. p.15

  • 1950 -- First regular commercial color TV transmission.

  • 1950 -- Remington Rand's UNIVAC I computer is debuted, becomes first computer to be commercially produced for business; first computer to use magnetic tape storage

  • 1951-52 -- Teller and Ulam develop the first H-bomb

  • 1951-53 -- James Watson and Francis Crick identify the double-helix structure of DNA

  • 1952 -- First commercial application of the transister (in transistorized hearing aids)

  • 1952 -- Jonas Salk develops polio vaccine

  • 1952 -- Invention of artificial aortic heart valve

  • 1952 -- World's first major accident at a nuclear reactor occurs at Chalk river, Canada.

  • 1952 -- British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) flys first regular jet airliner service from London to Jhannesburg

  • 1953 -- Polyester fiber commercially marketed for the first time.

  • 1953 --Cybernetics, defined by US mathematician Normert Wiener as "the study of control and communications in the animal and the machine" is born. The new science explores the connection between the function of the human brain and nervous system and the equivalent programming and switching systems in computers

  • 1953 -- World's first successful open heart surgery

  • 1954 -- Texas Instruments (California) begins using silicon in transistors.

  • 1954 --First successful kidney transplant

  • 1954 -- Americans now own 52 million private cars (up from 28 million in 1946 and 40 million in 1950)

    1954 -- Them! (Directed by Gordon Douglas)

    1956 -- Forbidden Planet (Directed by Fred M. Wilcox)

  • 1956 -- Alexander Poniatoff demonstrates his Ampex videotape recorder in Chicago; in November, first video recording aired on TV

  • 1956 --First transatlantic telephone cable is put into operation

  • 1956 -- First desk-sized computer, the Burroughs E101 is demonstrated

  • 1957 -- First man-made satellite of planet Earth, Sputnik I, is launched by the Soviet Union; a month later, Sputnik 2 is launched with a dog on board

  • 1957 -- Hoover Co. makes first spin dryer commercially available to the home market

  • 1957 -- Sony develops the pocket-sized transistor radio

  • 1957 -- US opens the first commercial nuclear power plant

    1957 -- Desk Set (also known as His Other Woman) (Directed by Walter Lang)

  • 1959 -- The Xerox 914, the first convenient office plain paper copier, is unveiled, 21 years after the invention of xerography

  • 1959 -- The RCA 501, the world's first fully transistorized computer, is introduced

  • 1959 -- Researchers at the Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York isolate DNA for the first time

  • The 1960's

  • 1960 -- The Light-emitting diode (LCD) is invented by Nick Holonyak in the USA

    Media History Timeline (1960s) from The Media History Project Web site

  • 1960 -- The Light-emitting diode (LCD) is invented by Nick Holonyak in the USA

  • 1960 -- First laser is developed in the US

  • 1960 -- The Light-emitting diode (LCD) is invented by Nick Holonyak in the USA

  • 1960 -- The nuclear US submarine Triton completes with first underwater voyage around the world

  • 1961 -- Alan Shepard becomes the first American in space--a 15 minute suborbital flight

  • 1962 -- John Glenn becomes first astronaut to orbit the earth

  • 1962 -- Telstar, world's first communications satellite, is launched, linking US to Europe. TV broadcasts of up to 20 minutes may be sent.

  • 1963 -- First human lung transplant

  • 1963 -- Valium introduced by Roche laboratories

  • 1963 -- Audiocassette introduced

  • 1963 -- Houston surgeon Michael De Bakey pioneers the use of the artifical heart to pump blood during surgery

  • 1964 -- First human heart transplant

  • 1964 -- IBM introduces OS/360 the first widely-used computer operating system

  • 1965 -- First tendevous in space--US spacecraft Gemini 6 and 7 during a record 14 day flight

  • 1965 -- First space walk: Alexei Leonov and the spaceship Voskhod 2

  • 1966 -- Unmanned Soviet spacecraft Luna 9 is the first to make a successful soft landing on the moon

  • 1968 -- First color TV transmission from space--Apollo 10

  • 1968 -- First spacecraft to travel around the moon and return safely to Earth (Zond 5)

    1968 -- 2001: A Space Odyssey (Directed by Stanley Kubrick)

  • 1968 -- Phenomenon of "Black Holes" is first described

    1969 -- Collossus: The Forbin Project (Directed by Joseph Sargent)

  • 1969 -- Supersonic airliner Concorde makes its maiden flight from France to Britain

  • 1969/70 -- First jumbo jet service is introduced

  • 1969 -- Dr. Robert Edwards, Cambridge, England, successfully performs first in vito fertilization of human egg

  • 1969 -- US Dept of Defense establishes the ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), computer network to provide a secure and survivable communications mechanism for organizations engaged in defense-related research

  • The 1970's

    Media History Timeline (1970s) from The Media History Project Web site

  • 1970 -- IBM introduced the floppy disk for storing data used by computers

  • 1970 -- Prototype of videodisc is demonstrated in West Berlin

  • 1971 -- Microprocessor chip introduced by Intel

    1971 -- The Omega Man (Directed by Boris Sagal)

  • 1971-72 -- Mars 2 is the first spacecraft to impact on Mars

  • 1971 -- Direct trans-oceanic telephone dialing begins

  • 1971 -- The US mounts a pair of successful manned Apollo moon missions; Alan Shepard becomes first Earthling to step on the moon

  • 1972 -- Kodak introduces cartridge-loading Instamatic camera

  • 1972 -- Texas Instruments introduces the first commercial pocket calculator

  • 1973 -- Stanley Cohen (Stanford) and Herbert Boyer (UCSF) and others develop recombinant DNA technology

  • 1973 -- IBM introduces its Selectric typewriter

  • 1974 -- First programmable pocket calculator is introduced by Hewlett Packard

  • 1974 -- Push button telephone introduced

  • 1975 -- Number of TV sets in the US is 130 million; more than the number of bath tubs

  • 1975 -- First video game, Hockey Pong, is introduced by Atari

  • 1975 -- First successful attempt to clone a mammal: British zoologiest Derek Broomhall succeeds in producing a rabbit, genetically identical to its mother, in the lab.

  • 1976 -- Apple Computers is founded in a garage by Steven P. Jobs and Stephen G. Wozniak; the Apple II is the first successful pre-assembled personal computer

  • 1977 -- Videocassette recorder is introduced by Phililps (Netherlands)

    1977 -- Demon Seed ) (Directed by Donald Cammell)

  • 1978 -- Lesley Brown gives birth to first "test tube baby."

  • 1978 -- Number of nuclear power stations operating in the world: 204

  • 1979 -- Unmanned space probes Voyager 1 & 2 explore Jupiter; Pioneer 11 becomes first spacecraft to reach Saturn

  • 1979 -- Burroughs company pioneers large-scale production of Interferon, a protein made by human body cells under attack from a virus

    The 1980's

    Media History Timeline (1980s) from The Media History Project Web site

  • 1980 -- First public international electronic facsimile service (Intelpost) introduced

  • 1980 -- US Supreme Court rules that a man-made life form can be patented (Diamond v Chakrabarty)

  • 1980 -- U.S. Center for Disease Control recognizes AIDS for the first time

  • 1981 -- IBM personal computer using the DOS is introduced

  • 1982/83 -- Compact disc players are introduced by Sony and Phillips

  • 1982 -- First commercial genetic engineering product (Humulin--a genetically engineered form of human insulin) is marketed by Eli Lilly Co.

  • 1982 -- Improvements in fax technology decrease transmission time from 6 minutes to around 4 seconds; number of fax machines in US hits 350,000 (up from 69K in 1975)

  • 1983 -- Jack Szostak (Harvard) and his grad student assistant, Jack Szostak, create the first artificial chromosome

  • 1983-- IBM introduces a personal computer with a standard hard disk drive

  • 1983-- First successful human embryo transfer

  • 1983-- Construction of world's largest telescope (the Keck telescope) begins in Mauna Kea. Hawaii

  • 1983-- Beginnings of the Internet

  • 1984-- Apple Computers introduces the Macintosh home computer
  • 1984-- William Gibson develops the concepts of cyberculture and cyberspace in his novel Neuromancer

    1985 -- Brazil (Directed by Terry Gilliam)

  • 1985-- British geneticist Alec Jeffreys discovers the techniques of genetic fingerprinting

  • 1986-- Chernobyl nuclear reactor melts down

  • 1986-- Space shutle Challenger explodes on liftoff, killing all seven astronauts on board

  • 1986-- US FDA approves first genetically-engineered vaccine.

  • 1986-- Sale of microwave ovens in the US tops 12.6 million

    1986 -- Robocop (Directed by Paul Verhoeven )

  • 1988-- Oldest known galaxy (4C41.17) is discovered, Kitt Peak National Observatory, Tucson, Arizona

  • 1989-- Tim Berners-Lee and his colleagues at CERN, an international scientific organization based in Geneva, Switzerland lay the foundations of the World Wide Web by creating a protocol, HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which standardized communication between servers and clients.

  • 1989--The U.S. Department of Defense launches Simnet (simulator network), an experimental network of microcomputer-based workstations that enables military personnel to practice combat operations on interactive, real-time training systems

    The 1990's

    Media History Timeline (1990s) from The Media History Project Web site

    The Future of Robotics (from WIRED)

  • 1990-- NASA launches the Hubble Space Telescope

    1991 -- Terminator 2 (Directed by James Cameron)

  • 1993-- MOSAIC World Wide Web browser is released--developed in the United States by Marc Andreessen and others at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois

  • 1993-- Wired magazine founded

  • 1994 -- Netscape is founded by Marc Andreessen and others

    1995 -- Virtuosity (Directed by Brett Leonard)

    1995 -- Johnny Mnemonic (Directed by Robert Longo)

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