Camera icon.This link bypasses navigation taking you directly to the contents of this page.

How to Use This Image


Inquiry Question

Historical Context



Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 3
Photo 4
Photo 5


Table of

Visual Evidence

Photo 6: A phonograph/kinetoscope parlor in San Francisco, 1895.

[Graphic] Photo 6 with link to higher quality photo.
(Photo: Edison National Historic Site)

The nickelodeon machines on the left were coin operated phonographs. Patrons could deposit a nickel and then listen to an Edison phonograph record through the listening tubes that can be seen hanging from the machines. The kinetoscopes were also coin operated and were used to watch early Edison motion pictures. After depositing a nickel, the patron viewed a 20-second- to one-minute-long movie through a viewing slit in the top of the box. A visit to a phonograph and kinetoscope parlor was probably the first opportunity that many people had to hear recorded music or see moving images of people.

1. Why do you suppose these machines were all together in one place rather than in private homes?

2. How do you think people responded to these novelties?

3. What later inventions can you think of that might have affected people in the same way?

* The images on the screen have a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a high resolution version of this photo, but be aware that it will take about 45 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.




Comments or Questions

National Park Service arrowhead with link to NPS website.