This Day in History – February 26th, 1909

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1911 Kinemacolor recreated from original materials.

Kinemacolor was the first successful color motion picture process, used commercially from 1908 to 1914. It was invented by George Albert Smith of Brighton, England in 1906. He was influenced by the work of William Norman Lascelles Davidson and, more directly, Edward Raymond Turner. It was launched by Charles Urban‘s Urban Trading Co. of London in 1908. From 1909 on, the process was known as Kinemacolor. It was a two-color additive color process, photographing and projecting a black-and-white film behind alternating red and green filters.

The first motion picture exhibited in Kinemacolor was an eight-minute short filmed in Brighton titled A Visit to the Seaside, which was trade shown in September 1908. On February 26th, 1909, the general public first saw Kinemacolor in a programme of twenty-one short films shown at the Palace Theatre in London. The process was first seen in the United States on December 11th, 1909, at an exhibition staged by Smith and Urban at Madison Square Garden in New York.

A very rare color photo of President Taft.

A very rare color photo of President Taft.

In 1910, Kinemacolor released the first dramatic film made in the process, Checkmated. The company then produced the documentary films With Our King and Queen Through India (also known as The Durbar at Delhi, 1912), and the notable recovery of £750,000 worth of gold and silver bullion from the wreck of P&O’s SS Oceana in the Strait of Dover (1912). With Our King and Queen Through India and the dramas The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1914), and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1914) were the first three feature films made in color. Unfortunately, these latter two features were also among the last films released by Kinemacolor.

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