Charles E. Chinnock

American producer

Chinnock saw the Edison Kinetoscope soon after its launch in 1894, and engaged engineer Frank D. Maltby to build a motion picture camera, with friction-roller movement. Chinnock's interest in challenging Edison's device may have been more than commercial; a couple of years previously he had been involved in patent litigation (relating to electric lighting) with Edison, and had unfairly lost the case due to false testimony in Edison's favour by W.K-L. Dickson. The Chinnock Kinetoscope viewing machine was a development of the zoetrope, but with a spiral of photographs mounted on a canvas band, rather than a circle of drawings. Before Christmas 1894, the camera was being used to produce subjects for the Chinnock Kinetoscope. The first subject was probably a boxing match, shot on the roof of a building at the rear of 1729 St Marks Avenue, Brooklyn. Later films were processed in a laboratory beneath the stage, and included the Caflin Sisters (skirt dancers), A Cock Fight, Casey at the Bat, a blacksmith shop scene, and a dance by Ruth Dennis (Ruth St Denis). The Chinnock Kinetoscopes were placed in bars and cafés in New York and elsewhere in the Eastern United States. Chinnock made other cameras and other 'Kinetoscopes' and continued production possibly through August of 1895. In May 1895 he made an agreement with Michel Werner in France and James Edward Hough in England, and claimed to have sent them both cameras, the latter in June 1895. (Werner was the first Paris agent for the Edison Kinetoscope, and with Hough had been involved in producing counterfeit 'Edison' Kinetoscopes). On 18 May 1895 Hough patented a viewer similar to the Chinnock Kinetoscope. There does not, however, seem to have been any commercial exploitation of the Chinnock devices in Europe.

Stephen Herbert