history of projector

history of projector


The most common type of projector used today is called a video projector. Video projectors are digital replacements for earlier types of projectors such as slide projectors and overhead projectors. These earlier types of projectors were mostly replaced with digital video projectors throughout the 1990s and early 2000s (decade), but old analog projectors are still used at some places.



Before embarking in the history of the projector, a definition might clear up to those reading what a projector is. According to a reference site, “Dictionary.com” a projector” is an apparatus for throwing an image on a screen, or a device for projecting a beam of light” (Dictionary, 2008). Projectors can be dated back as far the 1400s (Marples, 2011). The earliest forms of projectors were without lens. The first idea of projecting images can be dated back to 1420; the idea was in a drawing by Johannes de Fontana (Marples, 2011). The drawing was of a monk holding a lantern, in the lantern was an image of a devil and that same image was projected on the wall by the flame of the lantern. In the 1600s for entertainment many times the Magic Lantern was used (Magic Lantern, 2012). The Magic Lantern, with the use of fire, illuminated hand painted or photographically printed glass slides. In these times, the slides were non-moving slides. Those skilled with the magic lantern moved the slides at a faster pace, leaving an impression of a moving image (Magic Lantern, 2012). These projectors were the starting point for projecting imagery. As time again passed, history once again showed its face in the world of projection.

In the 1890s the first movie projector was invented (eHow, 2011). Many had attempted to create film devices but the most influential inventors were Thomas Edison and the Lumiere brothers (eHow, 2011). In 1889 after Thomas Edison saw Jules Marey roll-film, he came back to America with ideas to create something similar (Early Cinema, 2012). Edison in 1890 tested out his cylinder method he called “Monkeyshines” (Early Cinema, 2012). The presentation wasn’t at a larger scale so it required magnification. The images from Edison’s approach to make film with a cylinder shape also presented a grainy image; Edison soon decided to abandon this method. With the help of his assistant W.K.L Dickson, both created after extensive research, the Kinetoscope. The Kinetoscope was a device where users would view the top of a cabinet and be able to watch a few minutes of moving pictures. The Kinetoscope’s first public demonstration was May 9, 1893 at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. The Kinetoscope began to become a hit. The public was enjoying the performances and Edison was attracting great talent to do short clips for his machine. The Kinetoscope machine even reached the point of receiving a parlor especially for Kinetoscope viewing. As the popularity of the Kinetoscope died down, new devices began to rise up, one device created by the Lumiere Brothers. The Lumiere brothers, sons of the portrait painter Antoine Lumiere, were always surrounded by the arts (Walters, 2002). In the 1880s they created a plate that became a great success in the world of photography. Their success led to their invitation to view a demonstration of Edison’s Kinetoscope. They took this viewing and made goals to create a machine that was greater than the Kinetoscope. They first found what they thought as the main problems with the machine. They thought the machine was too big and bulky (Walters, 2002). They also noted that the machine could only be view one user at a time; they thought this was a major problem (Walters, 2002). Soon the Lumiere’s invented a device that would combine both a camera with printer and projector. They called their machine the Cinematographe. The Cinematographe was smaller and lighter in weight than the Kinetoscope. One small difference was the Cinematographe was a hand cranked machine. The Lumiere’s had their first public viewing of the machine was December 28th 1895. Soon the Lumiere brothers began to open up Cinematographe theatres because of the popularity of the machine. Many people favored the Cinematographe because the films were very realistic with their everyday lives. As time passed the projection world also began to upgrade.


The projection world would soon be introduced to the overhead projector. The concept of the overhead projector was taken from the concept of what in the 1900’s was called the “magic lamp” or the opaque projector (Morgan, 2012). The opaque projector used to a bright light to shine through a non-transparent object and with the help of mirror projected an image on the screen (Morgan, 2012). However, the direct history of the overhead projector can be traced to being used by police and the Army in the 1940s (Timeline, 2012). overhead projectors were being used to train and for lectures. The police also used the projectors to go over criminal profiles. The overhead projector had not seen its highest use until the device was modernized in the 1960s. Roger Appledorn was young research scientist working for 3M, a company known for thermo-copying (Morgan, 2012). The company was also known for allowing its workers to experiment and to be innovative. Appledorn was one of those experimenters and created a machine that would project writing from clear film. When he presented this idea to 3M, they liked it and developed an overhead projector. Appledorn then found a market that would cause his idea to rapidly grow. Appledorn appealed to the business and the education market. The overhead project, in hindsight, was a great contribution to the education system (Morgan, 2012). Teacher found with these projectors preparing for their lectures was easier (timeline, 2012). They also found that this approach had more appeal than earlier methods, teaching using blackboards. The teacher saw they could then participate with class easier now that they could be facing the students engaging in their school exercises. As the times began to turn, and technology began to advance soon new types of projectors were being made available.


The Cathode Ray Tube Projector was one of the first digital projectors that was put out on the market. The Cathode Ray Tube is a vacuum tube where an electron beam comes into contact with a phosphorescent surface (Bambooav, 2012). The CRT uses those tubes to project an image. In the most of the projectors there were three tubes on red, one blue, and one green (Bambooav, 2012). When video signal were processed they would go to their specific tube. The tubes all had lens that would project the image giving the projection. The technology was developed in the late 1800s, was not utilized until the 1930s.These tubes were being used to project images inside of the televisions. A new type of technology called LCD or Liquid crystal display would take over (eHow, 2010). The LCD technology was invented by Gene Dolgoff (eHow, 2010). His goal was to create a display brighter than CRT projectors had been. The way the LCD technology would work, a beam of light from a lamp would pass through a special prism that contained liquid crystals (J.). The prism would then split the light in to three panels made from silicone. Each panel would receive a specific color one red, one green, and one blue (J.). When a charge would be applied that would determine whether or not the light passes through, which then control the pixilation and results in a formed image (J, 2012). Again as some may say, history repeated itself.

The projector world yet again was faced with a technology that would bring forth greater competition for both CRT and LCD manufacuturers. DLP technology was created. DLP or Digital Lighting Process was invented in the 1987 by workers at Texas Instruments (Oriphus, 2004). The DLP technology uses a DMD chip or Digital Micromirror Device, which is an optical semiconductor. The DMD is full of little mirrors that can rotate and are capable of switching on and off at a high rate of times per second (Oriphus, 2004). When a mirror is on it produces a white image. The more the mirrors are switched off the higher the levels of black. Adding color to the DLP technology, a color spin wheel was added onto the device, spinning in front of the light source and moving toward the DMD technology (Oriphus, 2004). CRT, LCD, and DLP were and still today are at the for-front of the surge for projectors, especially the LCD and the DLP technologies. Some also saw with the times, as the technology for computers began to grow the surge in the sales for projectors began to also take its place. The first place the technology landed were in the same market the overhead projectors struck gold, the business market and the education market. With new available system software, businesses were able to create same presentations but this time the use of computers could cut the time and also give their presentations better looks. Projectors began to grow on the user that used them projectors strictly for work purposes, like any user soon could find themselves becoming fond of the products. Projections companies had a market that was soon spreading. They could interest their new consumers from a different approach, projecting from home. Many companies as any business with new technologies and new consumers would have to lower their price to reach the heights of their new consumers’ pockets. Consumers would soon find they would be faced with bigger issues than what would was the best buy. Consumers would have to argue over which type of projector would be the better buy.


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