George Horner, 1834
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became of it | Video Demonstrations
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zoetrope was invented in 1834 by William Horner, who originally
called it a Daedalum ("wheel of the Devil").
It was based on Plateau's phenakistoscope, but was more convenient
since it did not require a viewing mirror and allowed more
than one person to use it at the same time. Horner's
invention strangely became forgotten for nearly thirty years
until 1867, when it became patented in England by M. Bradley,
and in America by William F. Lincoln. Lincoln renamed
the Daedalum, giving it the name of "zoetrope,"
or "wheel of life."
is the third major optical toy, after the thaumatrope and
phenakistoscope, that uses the persistence of motion principle
to create an illusion of motion. It consists of a simple
drum with an open top, supported on a central axis.
A sequence of hand-drawn pictures on strips of paper are placed
around the inner bottom of the drum. Slots are cut at
equal distances around the outer surface of the drum, just
above where the picture strips were to be positioned.
an illusion of motion, the drum is spun; the faster the rate
of spin, the smoother the progression of images. A viewer
can look through the wall of the zoetrope from any point around
it, and see a rapid progression of images. Because of
its design, more than one person could use the zoetrope at
the same time.
became of it:
praxinoscope was invented by Emile Reynaud in 1877, interest
in the zoetrope declined. The praxinoscope offered a clearer,
brighter image to viewers than the zoetrope could. In
1889, George Eastman invented flexible photographic film, which
allowed a lot of film to be held on one reel. Whereas
zoetrope picture strips were limited to about 15 pictures per
strip, devices using reels of the new flexible film could present
longer animations to viewers. Finally, in 1895, modern
cinema was born. Once moving pictures could be projected
on a large screen, optical toys such as the zoetrope became
used less and less frequently.
Links to video demonstrations:
(requires RealPlayer G2 or higher)
connection (T1/LAN/DSL/cable) only
higher video quality in a downloadable file
Video for Windows
information for William G. Horner:
to build your own zoetrope (downloadable PDF manual)
here to see a side view of the
zoetrope, showing its cylindrical shape.