German engineer, inventor
Long hidden by the imposing shadow cast by Oskar Messter, Max Gliewe was a highly skilled and innovative engineer who made significant contributions to film technology from its beginnings through the turn of the century. When the operators of the small cinema theatre at 21 Unter den Linden in Berlin repeatedly turned to the engineering firm of Gliewe & Kügler in Spring 1896 for the repair of their Kinétographe of Méliès and Reulos (bought from the Isola brothers in Paris and widely advertised as an Isolatographe), it was Gliewe who recognised that the Maltese cross movement would be a decisive improvement on the badly-working machines's drunken-screw intermittent, and he began to manufacture a five-sided Maltese cross. Apart from selling to individual showmen, Gliewe obtained an order for fifty machines from the firm of Haydon & Urry, Upper Street, Islington, London, and his apparatus is the likely origin of the British company's Eragraph projector.
In Autumn 1896, Messter also turned to Gliewe, replacing his trial equipment based on Robert Paul's Theatrograph intermittent with Gliewe's double-plate design with a five-sided Maltese cross (by late 1897 four-sided) that became a trademark of Messter equipment. Gliewe designed Messter's most popular Victorian machine, the Model X, in 1898-99, of which some 500 examples were sold, and in 1899 created a new machine which allowed frame adjustments while the film was running without shifting the picture on the screen. Messter's firm absorbed Gliewe & Kügler on 1 October 1900, and in 1902 Gliewe's partner Theodore Pätzold developed a three-bladed shutter for his own shows which Gliewe quickly added to the Messter projectors, just as John A. Pross was adding a similar shutter to Biograph apparatus in the United States: this was the final step towards fully modern equipment which eliminated flicker on the screen. In each of these development Gliewe was the progenitor of sophisticated engineering innovations that were essential to the evolution of modern projection equipment.