Incredible Vintage Animated Gifs
Nearly 155 years before the first animated gif appeared in 1887, Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau unveiled an invention called the phenakistoscope, a device that is largely considered to be the first mechanism for true animation. The simple gadget relied on the persistence of the vision principle to create the illusion of images in motion.
The phenakistoscope used a spinning disc attached vertically to a handle. Arrayed around the disc’s center were a series of drawings showing phases of the animation, and cut through it were a series of equally spaced radial slits. The user would spin the disc and look through the moving slits at the disc’s reflection in a mirror. The scanning of the slits across the reflected images kept them from simply blurring together, so that the user would see a rapid succession of images that appeared to be a single moving picture.
Though Plateau is credited with inventing the device, there were numerous other mathematicians and physicists who were working on similar ideas around the same time, and they too were building on the works of Greek mathematician Euclid and Sir Isaac Newton who had also identified the principles behind the phenakistoscope.
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