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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

Did Thomas Edison Murder The Real Inventor of the Motion Picture Camera and Steal His Invention?

00:00 01:21:25
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In the late 1800s, there was an all-out sprint among inventors and tinkerers to create the first motion picture camera. The first across the finish line would get an incredibly valuable patent worth millions. The ultimate winner was an unassuming Frenchman named Louis Le Prince, who died before he could present his invention to the world, and some believe was murdered by Thomas Edison.
n 1890, Louis Le Prince, before any of his competitors, was granted patents in four countries for his “taker” or “receiver” device, the product of years of furious, costly work. The device would capture ten to twelve images per second on film, a reproduction of reality that could be replayed limitlessly, shared with those on the other side of the planet with only a few days delay. But just a month before unveiling his invention to the world, he mysteriously disappeared. Three and a half years later, Le Prince’s invention was finally made public – by his rival, Thomas Edison, who claimed to have invented it himself.
To unravel this mystery, I am joined by Paul Fischer, author of The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures: A True Tale of Obsession, Murder, and the Movies. Le Prince’s disappearance is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of cinema history, and Fischer discusses what he and other film theorists think might have happened to this famous inventor and creator of the motion picture. But most of all, we explore the impact Le Prince’s work has had on centuries of filmmakers, and why it is so important to restore Le Prince’s place in history.
June 30, 2022
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to scottrankphd.com.
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