The Evolution and Role of Video in History

the first video

It is almost impossible to underestimate the role of video in today’s world. Look around: it is everywhere. We watch video movies and video advertising, we hold the moments of our lives with a smartphone camera, we plan online video meetings, and so on. Just 129 years ago, the creators of the first video could not even imagine what their innovation could mean. We hope that this amazingly fast-paced history of video is both interesting and thought provoking. So, fasten your seat belts, a fascinating journey through the history of the video is waiting for you!

1888: Roundhay Garden Scene

This work of Louis Le Prince represents the first video in the world. Le Prince used a paper tape coated with photographic emulsion and a chronographic camera that allowed him to record the movement of the object by means of photographing the individual phases at short regular intervals. George Eastman invented this technology in 1884, but no one used it for five years!

The video takes 1.66 seconds and has almost no plot. But it is a miracle that this piece of life survived, as a testament to the growth of technologicy. It was the prototype of the coming revolution…

1895: The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station

The first widely distributed video is The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station (L’Arrivee d’un train en gare de la Ciotat). This video marked the beginning of the cinema era. Lumiere brothers shot and showed this short documentary film in 1895.

By the way, Lumiere brothers shot this video using their own new (for that time) cinematograph technology. The success of cinematograph was so great that its name began to be used in most countries to refer to first the theater, and then the whole technology. Since then, Auguste and Nicolas are the founders of the video and film industry.

1899: The First Color Video

Only five years ago, in 2012, employees of the National Museum of Media and Technology in Bradford accidentally found the first color video in history. Previously, the oldest color movie, which was created with so-called Kinemacolour technique, dated 1909, but it turned out that the process of shooting the color film was invented and patented a decade earlier – in 1899 by photographer Edward Turner.

The novelty of Turner’s technology was the fact that each color shot through a special filter (red, green and blue). Respectively, each scene of the video was shot three times that gave a color image when combined. Unfortunately, Turner did not finish the projection in time; he died in 1902, failing to see the video. However, modern technologies have helped to restore the shots and make them move.

1923: The First Video Broadcast

The history of television development is a separate issue, but I believe it is necessary to recall the first video broadcast in history. Well, in the 1920’s, TV was very different: it was mechanical. In contrast to the modern, fully electronic television, mechanical television presupposed the presence of the moving mechanism for the transmitting and receiving images and playing them. Typically, it was a Nipkow Disk.

In 1923, American Charles Jenkins gave a moving silhouette image on a TV, but it was an experiment and did not receive wide publicity. After two years, on June 13, 1925, a full TV broadcast with halftone video was held from the ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

first video
Charles Jenkins

1941: The First Video Advertising

Advertisers created the first TV commercial in 1941. It was the video ad of Bulova watch; primitive, black and white, but memorable. For this, New York TV station interrupted a broadcast of the baseball game.

The video lasted only twenty seconds and cost $4. Four thousand American families saw that advertising – that’s how many people had TV sets at that time in the country.

1948: The Invention of Video Recording

With the advent of television, the scientists began to think about how to fix the video stream to re-broadcast. The first VCR’s were unable to record video through the tape, which was moving at a high speed. In 1948, this technology was applied in practice. However, the huge consumption of the tape and the instability did not allow the project to escape the walls of the laboratory.

1956: The First Video Camera

The first video camera in the world, which recorded both sound and video, was invented in 1956. Its founders were Charles Anderson, Charles Ginsberg (the CEO of Ampex Corporation), and Ray Dolby, who worked on the sound system. Again, only big film studios could afford to buy such a device, as it cost $75,000.

the first color video

The development of video technology in the second half of the 20th century led to the development of the film industry. Hollywood began to create a lot more films.

1985: The First Video Camcorder: The Beginning of Digital Revolution

In 1981, Sony began mass production of cameras available for consumers (HVC-F1). It’s true these cameras were still expensive and heavy, but they made high quality videos.

the first color video
HVC-F1 by Sony

In 1985, Sony launched the videotape standard Video 8. JVC quickly noticed the shortcomings of such devices and began to challenge with Sony, creating a new VHS-C analog format. Since then, consumers have a real opportunity to own video equipment.

Many believe that the intense competition between JVC and Sony led to the digital revolution. Manufacturers began refusing analog technology and instead integrating with digital. Along with the advent of the Internet, these trends led to the beginning of globalization and the emergence of the post-industrial economy.

1997: The First Video Sharing Website

Chase Norlin was the first one who thought about the possibility of publishing videos online. In 1997, he created, which was the first video hosting site in history. Users were able to upload videos in various formats. However, the website stopped working in 2001 due to financial problems. Before the advent of Vimeo in 2004, online users could upload videos on different websites with support of Flash, Shockwave, or Quicktime player. But YouTube started a new era in the world of video, thanks to which video became the most popular online content.

2005: YouTube and the New Era of Video Marketing

In 2005, three guys decided to create a website where users can upload their videos for all to see. Since then, YouTube has gained incredible popularity, which we continue to see today. After the purchase of YouTube, Google began experimenting with video ads. With the popularity of video hosting, the US had begun a real boom in internet marketing and online video. Many brands realized the importance of video marketing and began to create their first online video campaigns.

In 2006, Dove became one of the first brands who used YouTube in a marketing strategy. The brand developed a sensational campaign The Evolution. After Dove, many followed, including Nike, Blendtec, Old Spice, and so on.

2008 – Our Time: Video Takes over the World

Barack Obama became the first president who used online video during the election campaign. In his video messages, he urged people to go and vote. It was quite risky to bet on social media and video because nobody had done this before. Nevertheless, the future US president was not wrong, thus confirming the usefulness and importance of video, not only in marketing but also in global social life.

There is a huge amount of evidence and stats about how video affected the Arab Spring in 2011. Protesters in Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Jordan and many others have used YouTube videos for organization, communication and information when trying to unite against repression.

Public activists have used online video streaming to broadcast multitudes of protests against Trump in 2016.

How Did We Get Here?

It is unlikely that George Eastman, Louis Le Prince, Lumiere brothers and other inventors of the 19th century guessed what will their efforts. Today, video is at the peak of its development: it accounts for 72% of online content, and is a key strategy for the majority of world famous companies.

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