Milestones Of The Animation Industry In The 20th Century
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Newman Laugh-O-Gram. Courtesy of Disney.

1920 Bray Picture Corporation's The Debut of Thomas Cat was the first color cartoon. It was made using Brewster Color, a 2 color process.

Oskar Fischinger's Wax Experiments production device. Courtesy of William Moritz.

1921 Walt Disney animates his first film. It is a Newman Laugh-O-Gram sample reel. He sold a theater chain, headed by Frank L. Newman, on the idea of producing the series which included ads for local merchants.

1921 Walther Ruttmann's Light Play, Opus 1 was the first non-objective (totally abstract) film shown to the public. It had a commercial tour with Ruttmann accompaning the 13 minute work on the cello. (Germany)

Oskar Fischinger. Courtesy of William Moritz.

1923 Oskar Fischinger's first public screening was a showing of his Wax Experiments. (Germany)

1924 Max and Dave Fleischer's Mother Pin A Rose on Me, a Song Car-Tunes, was released by Arrow Film Corp. It was the first sound cartoon and it used the Lee DeForest Phonofilm sound process.

Lotte Reiniger working on Adventures of Prince Achmed. Courtesy of William Moritz.

1926 Lotte Reiniger's Adventures of Prince Achmed, an animated feature using her silhouette technique, premieres in Berlin. It is the first animated feature that can be verified and prints of this charming work are still shown to the public on special occasions.

1927 Oskar Fischinger exhibits R-1, A Form Play using five 35mm movie projectors and a slide projector.

Disney's Steamboat Willie.
© Disney.

1928 Disney's Steamboat Willie wasn't the first sound cartoon, but it was the first to become a popular success with the public and critics.

Feline Follies (1919) marked the first appearance of Felix the Cat.

1930 Felix the Cat, the silent screen's greatest star, was also the star of some of the most famous photos of early TV equipment. NBC's experimental TV station in New York used a Felix toy on a rotating turntable for test broadcasts. Earlier demonstrations of TV included Herbert Hoover in Washington being seen and heard in New York in 1927 and regular broadcasts in Schenectady three times a week in 1928 using a mechanical rotating disc system.

1932 Berthold Bartosch's L'Idee (The Idea, made in France) was the first serious animated film about social issues. It was an ambitious, highly creative project and about 30 minutes in length. Arthur Honegger's score for the film is believed to be the first use of an electronic instrument in a motion picture.

Disney's Flowers and Trees. © Disney.

1932 Disney's Flowers and Trees was the first cartoon made using three-strip Technicolor.

Disney's Three Little Pigs. © Disney.

1933 Disney's Three Little Pigs showed the animation community that almost identical looking cartoon characters can have different personalities due to their performances.

1933 Alexandre Alexeïeff and Claire Parker complete Night on Bald Mountain, their first film using their pinscreen technique.

1933 Lillian Friedman is promoted to animator by Max Fleischer. She was the first woman animator in a U.S. animation studio.

1934 The somewhat wild and risqué pre-code animation period ended when the film industry adopted a mandatory censorship system. Censorship lasted until 1968 when the system was replaced by a letter rating system (G, R, X, etc.).

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