This has always bugged me. I asked something about this before, and Eve responded by mentioning something I’d never heard of before. If she or someone could be a little more explicit, I’d appreciate it.
When I was growing up, the references I checked said that the first “taslkie” was The Jazz Singer, and that it used records for the sound.
This seems absurd, when you think about it. Sound recording technology long predates motion pictures. Edison, who invented the phonograph, was also a pioneer in movies, and he was noted for his ability to marry technologies. Surely the idea of using phonograph recordings to give sound to the moviers long predates the 1920s.
The film The Celluloid Closet opens with an Edison film showing two guys dancing while a third plays a violin into an Edison cylinder phonograph recorder. Surely there was a recording that accompanied that film!
So why do the histories say that sound movies started in the 1920s?
I thought I understoiod why a few years ago, when the American Heritage Magazine of Science and Invention ran an article that noted that records and such non-synchronized sound technology had the fatal flaw of becoming unsynchronized if the projector and phonograph speeds differed, or if the film had broken and gotten spliced. But then The Jazz Singer would have had the same flaw. And I’ve recently learned that “Sound Disc” recordings were used to provide the sound for movie theaters making the switch from silents to talkies, and they’re just glorified phonograph discs. So we’re back to my original question.
And just to muddy the waters, synchronized sound baeed on optical or magnetic recording apparently preceded The Jazz Singer. Leslie Cabarga, in the second edition of “The Fleischer Story” notes that there was a lone inventor making sound cartoons prior to 1920 (and well in advance of Disney’s “Steamboll Bill”). Apparebntly his problem was largely a lack of money.
So what’s the story? Why wasn’t there more widespread use of phonographs for sound accvompanying motion pictures prior to the 1920s? It clearly wasn’t a matter of synchronization, since phono discs and sound discs must have had the same problem. And why the big deal about The Jazz Singer when it used a system due to become completely obsolete in just a couple of years?