- Thomas Armat
Armat studied at the Mechanics Institute in
Richmond, Virginiaand then in 1894 at the Bliss School of Electricity in Washington, D.C., where he met Charles Francis Jenkins. The two classmates teamed up to develop a movie projectorusing a new kind of intermittent motion mechanism, a "beater mechanism" similar to the one patented 1893 by Georges Demenÿ in France. It was one of the first projectors using what is known as the Latham loop(an extra loop of the film before the transport mechanism to reduce the tension on the film and avoid film breakage, developed independently at the same time by Woodville Lathamand his sons). They made their first public projection using their invention, named "Phantascope" after an earlier model designed by Jenkins alone, in September 1895 at the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta.
Following this success, the two co-inventors broke up over
patentissues. Jenkins tried to claim sole inventorship, but was turned down and sold out to Armat, who subsequently joined and sold the patent to Thomas Edison, who marketed the machine as the 'Vitascope'. The projector was used in a public screening in New York Citybeginning April 23, 1896and lasting more than a week.
Working for Edison, Armat refined the projector in 1897 by replacing the beater mechanism with a more precise
Geneva drive, duplicating an invention made a year earlier in Germanyby Oskar Messterand Max Griewe and in Englandby Robert William Paul.
In 1947, Armat and
William Nicholas Selig, Albert Edward Smith and George Kirke Spoorwere awarded a Special Academy Award as representatives of the movie pioneers for their contributions to the film business.
He died on
September 30, 1948. [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Thomas Armat, 81, A Pioneer in Films. Inventor of Vitascope Projector Attributed to Edison, Dies in Capital |url=http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20C15F73458157A93C3A9178BD95F4C8485F9 |quote=Thomas Armat, a pioneer in the motion-picture industry, died today at his home. ... |work= New York Times|date= October 1, 1948|accessdate=2008-07-16 ]
* [http://www.victorian-cinema.net/armat.htm Short biography]
* [http://theoscarsite.com/whoswho2/armat_t.htm Another short bio]
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6020302018400450975&q=Carmencita+-+Spanish+Dance Film "Spanish Dance"] "(on
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