edison manufacturing company


First released in 1896, the mutoscope was a cheaper version of an individual motion picture viewer. Using a circular flip book rather than the more expensive and fragile celluloid, it undercut Edison’s kinetoscope in the arcade business. Although no longer manufactured, they were an arcade staple until recently. Some arcades, particularly nostalgia-themed ones, still have them.

The Mutoscope Company was co-founded by William K. L. Dickson, Edison’s chief film developer and inventor of the kinetograph and kinetoscope. After leaving Edison in 1895, he then became Edison’s main domestic competitor.


Made fashionable by Loïe Fuller in the early 1890s, serpentine dances involved a female performer dancing in a flowing white dress under varyingly colored stage lighting. In the BFI’s copy of Annabelle Serpentine Dance, hypnotic swirls of hand-painted color move through different hues and saturations, mimicking the changing colors of stage light reflected by the dress.

Text    (Chromatic Cinema, Richard Misek, 2010)
Video (Annabelle, Serpentine Dance, Edison Manufacturing Company 1894)