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The inventions and discoveries made during this early period in cinema history shaped the techniques that have been used in filmmaking for over 100 years. The early experiments with optical toys such as the Phenakistoscope and the Zoetrope showed that moving pictures could be generated from a series of static images.

As these principles were developed, these animated images were projected using devices like Reynaud's Praxinoscope, patented in 1877.

The application of photographic principles and the launch of photographic quality celluloid saw Thomas Edison and William Dickson developing their own moving picture device - the Kinetoscope, a peephole device which invited viewers to look into a hole in the top of a large wooden cabinet and experience true moving pictures.

The Lumière's in France inspired by Edison's Kinetoscope, set about developing their own moving picture device - the Cinématographe, a 'taking picture' device which doubled as a projection device when light was directed into the back of the camera, passing through the celluloid film and out of the lens.

Other devices were developed, notably the Mutoscope, another peepshow device which employed a flip-book principle; and the Vitascope - developed by Thomas Armat and Charles Jenkins which employed similar principles as Edison's Kinetoscope but with the added benefit of being able to project the moving pictures.