Inventing the Movies: The Hidden Technological History of Hollywood
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George Eastman and Thomas Edison
Kodak founder George Eastman and inventor Thomas Edison helped create the movie industry. But Eastman didn’t think audiences cared about sound, and Edison was convinced that projecting movies would hurt his business of selling personal viewing machines.

What people are saying about Inventing the Movies:

“For anyone interested in a well-paced, accurate, and eminently readable chronicle of the fits, starts, foibles, and triumphs in the digitization of an entire industry, don’t wait for the this book!”

Bob Lambert, Senior VP, Worldwide Technology Strategy, The Walt Disney Company

Inventing the Movies is a comprehensive look at the changing landscape of cinema — a detailed history of determination, innovation and risk. This work is perfect for anyone wanting to have an understanding of the past, present and future of the medium. An excellent read for those interested in cinema and a must-read for anyone looking to enter the tech or film industry.”

— Filmmaker Lance Weiler

“Kirsner’s book...explores all the major technological advances in the cinema — from the introduction of sound, color, and widescreen formats, to digital projection, digital cameras (‘filming without film’), and the new business models ushered in by the Worldwide Web. Inventing the Movies is recommended reading for anyone interested in the history of the movies or in how technological change can get bogged down by the fear of undermining the entrenched business models in any industry.” (Excerpt from a longer blog post about the book. Whitehouse also produced a review/overview of the book for the Wharton School of Business’ Knowledge@Wharton site.)

— Kendall Whitehouse, Technology Editor, Knowledge@Wharton

“Scott’s new book is not only insightful, but timely. Hollywood has always dreaded a disruption of the status quo. That is how I was able to start the home video revolution. Now that the studios can deliver directly to the consumer via the Web, will they take the risks to open a whole new market?”

Andre Blay, founder of the Video Club of America, the first business to distribute Hollywood movies on videotape

Don Juan
Don Juan was the Warner brothers’ first experiment with sound, in 1926 (the year before “The Jazz Singer.”) The movie had a musical score, but no synchronized dialogue.
“Hollywood loves a good story, particularly one where the ending remains to be told. Inventing The Movies is a dual-track story about how technology enabled the movie industry we know today, and how technology will either enable, or disintermediate, the movie industry of the future.”

Gary Beach, Publisher Emeritus, CIO Magazine

“There are dozens of books about Hollywood’s history, and dozens more about the convergence of Hollywood and the new technologies — but none that address each topic in the context of the other. Only in bringing the two discussions together can any meaningful predictions be made — and that’s what Mr. Kirsner has done so well in this book. A fascinating, quick read.”

Guy Manos, Writer, Director, and Stunt Coordinator

“Insightful, provocative, and timely, Inventing the Movies is a sharply-angled history of a volatile business in which nobody really knows which horse to back or what’s going to happen next.”

— Graham Leggat, Executive Director, San Francisco Film Society

Inventing the Movies taught this media-watcher quite a bit, and even the asides are fun: bet you didn’t know there’s a brand of makeup called blu_ray. Anyone who wants a firm grounding in the never-ending wars between new ideas and entrenched attitudes should read this.”

Jimmy Guterman, Editor, MIT Sloan Management Review

Inventing the Movies crystallized my own experience of trying to sell technological innovation into this more-than-resistant industry. Through Scott’s insights and the retelling of a history I only partially knew, I better understand my own roller-coaster ride that took over a decade before digital cinema was embraced by the entire industry. I thoroughly enjoyed the concise and poignant stories of how such things as sound and color almost never made it to the big screen, despite the obvious benefits.“

Russell Wintner, president of WinterTek and former executive with CineComm, Technicolor Digital Cinema, and AccessIT

“A fun read, very informative, and written from the ‘people behind the tech’ point-of-view.”

Steven Lisberger, Visual effects pioneer, Writer, and Director of Tron

Inventing the Movies elegantly follows how the film industry has been pushed to reinvent itself by the inevitability of new technologies and the strategic timing of visionary filmmakers. Scott leaves nothing out of this thought-provoking journey that is still underway.”

— Ian Calderon, Director of Digital Initiatives, Sundance Institute

“...[A]n entertaining read with fascinating historical research and fresh insights from interviews with a long list of contemporary luminaries including director Peter Jackson, computer graphics pioneer Ed Catmull, and entrepreneur Mark Cuban.” (Excerpt from a longer review of the book.)

— David Tamés, Filmmaker and Editor,

“Gentle readers, buy this book. It is really well written and describes with great clarity the history of innovation in the entertainment industry. He shows the century-long efforts of Hollywood pacesetters to innovate while others preferred to maintain the status quo. Kirsner’s extensive use of sources and recognizable theme makes his book compelling for both industry aficionado and the layman alike.” (Excerpt from a longer blog post about the book.)

— Doug Levin, technology entrepreneur and former Microsoft executive

“I just got this one from Santa, and haven’t been able to put it down. Should be done in the next day or two, but can already highly recommend it, *especially* for anyone working in the games industry. ...Even if you don’t work in games, the accounting of the history of technology & innovation in Hollywood is quite fascinating.”

— Kim Pallister, Director of Content Strategy, Intel

Among the Best Reads of 2008: “...A fun way to think out of the box about crazy ideas, how they tend to get trampled, and how they sometimes end up as the catalyst that awakes a field and makes it even more vibrant than ever.”

— James Chung, President, Reach Advisors

“This book is a great read on the repeated struggles between innovators and the motion picture industry...the vitriolic nature of the clashes really comes through. What I found especially fascinating was that the innovators crashing the gates repeatedly turned into the heavies guarding the gates.”

— Eliot Mack, Founder, Lightcraft Technology

The book’s page features even more reviews.