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Bioscope en l'an 1900
Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) and the Edison Trust
The turn of the twentieth century witnessed a crackdown on “robber barons,” major businessmen such as Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan who amassed vast fortunes thanks to railroads and the monopolies of entire sectors of the economy. Cinema likewise was subjected to this business practice.
Known as the “Wizard of Menlo Park,” Thomas Edison, the famous inventor of the electric light bulb and the phonograph, wanted to quickly assert control of “moving pictures.” Along with his employee William K.L. Dickson, Edison developed a camera, the Kinetograph, and a personal viewing device, the Kinetoscope, through which moving pictures could be reproduced. With the arrival of the Cinématographe Lumière in 1896, Edison responded by releasing a commercial projector of his own, Armat’s Vitascope. Edison soon attempted to monopolize moving pictures, launching a patent war that divided the industry between his affiliates and his competitor, Biograph. In 1908, Edison founded the Motion Picture Patents Co. (the Edison Trust) by assembling the other key players in the industry (Pathé, Biograph, Vitagraph, etc.). The only Quebec member was Léo-Ernest Ouimet. To escape the reach of Edison’s Trust, independent producers moved to California in 1911, founding a site that would soon be known worldwide: Hollywood. The Trust experienced a series of setbacks in 1910 and was dissolved in 1915 following a judgment condemning its monopolistic practices.