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William Kennedy Laurie Dickson (Le Minihic-sur-Rance, France, 1860 – Twickenham, UK, 1935) British-French film director, photographer and engineer. He is considered one of the parents of cinema.
He grew up in England but, as soon as he reached maturity, he traveled to the United States to seek his fortune with the company of Thomas Edison.
Dickson was an amateur photographer and had followed the work of several pioneers in the search for what would later be the cinema. During his employment at Thomas Alva Edison’s laboratory in Menlo Park, Dickson had the opportunity to investigate ways of recording movement in the photographic film, inspired at the beginning, in methods similar to the way in which Edison’s phonograph recorded the sound. The first efforts involved a spinning drum illuminated by a wilis light. He was able, in 1890, to create a camera and a viewfinder that used long strips of film to capture movement in individual frames. In 1891, Edison filed a patent for the invention that, in the end, was called a kinetoscope.
In the mid-1890s, the kinetoscopes became a popular entertainment through which Americans first met motion pictures. Dickson started working on a projector so that the films could be displayed at the same time for large groups.
After separating from Edison, he founded his own company and created a camera together with the projector system. The company, called American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, launched its own films and in the future it became one of the largest film studios of its time.
Dickson returned to London in 1897 and, after traveling and shooting films for several years, left the film industry to become an electrical engineer.
Died in 1935.