When we see motion pictures, we rarely think of the science behind them. Hannibal Goodwin, who was an Episcopal priest at the House of Prayer in Newark, New Jersey, was always fascinated with pictures and photography. In fact, he invented flexible celluloid film, an invention that helped to produce the motion pictures that we see today. Many parishioners found it hard to believe that he could be an inventor, for they thought that his sole focus was on preaching and teaching the youngsters of his church. How surprised they were when found out that there minister was an inventor.
Like any other inventor, Goodwin invented flexible celluloid film to solve a problem. He wanted to make Sunday school classes more interesting for the children of his congregation; he thought that they would not be motivated to learn about the bible based on the photos that he found. He tried using his own glass plate photographs, but he saw that they were too bulky. As an amateur photographer, he was not satisfied using George Eastman’s Kodak camera. In his attic at the Plume House, he worked very hard and invented flexible photographic film, a very successful invention. He was awarded a patent for his invention in 1898.
After he served as a priest in the House of Prayer for 20 years, he started the Goodwin Film and Camera Company in 1900. Unfortunately, he died in an accident on December 31, 1900 before film production ever started.
Hannibal Goodwin’s invention of transparent flexible roll film was used in Thomas Edison’s kinetoscope, which was an early machine for viewing animation. The word kinetoscope comes from the two Greek words “kineto” meaning movement and “scopos” meaning to watch.
If Hannibal Goodwin had not invented flexible celluloid film, the entertainment industry of film would not exist today. Remember this when you sit back, relax and enjoy the show.