The cylinder has to spin in order for the user to see the pictures move through the slits. Without the slits, the picture will blur together, preventing the user from seeing the picture clearly. With the slits, the user is able to see the images move when in fact, what they are actually seeing is an illusion of movement.
These types of devices have been in development since the 20th century such as 3D zoetropes and linear zoetropes. The type of zoetrope that will be discussed in detail is called the cylindrical zoetropes.
A Look Back in the History of the Zoetropes
Ding Huan, a Chinese inventor, invented a device called “a variety of zoetrope” in 100 BC. The function of this device remains unknown to this day. All people know is that something along the lines of moving pictures was invented. Next, came the British’s turn to invent something similar, which they accomplished in 1833 or 1834.
This time it was William George Horner, a British mathematician, who developed a drum-like shape of the zoetrope. By the time he came around to building it, he had prior knowledge of the phenakistoscope disc.
Horner’s version contained rotating discs with slits to view the pictures. He ended up calling his invention the daedaleum. His invention did not become a huge hit until the 1860s when an alternation to the device was made; allowing people replace the pictures with new ones. Milton Bradely, an English inventor, and William F. Lincoln, an American inventor, both filed a patent for it. The American inventor called his device zoetrope, which became an instant hit.
Amongst all the different types of devices to view moving pictures available, the zoetrope presented people with something different. It provided them with an ease of use, as it allowed more than one person to view the animation at the same time. The moving pictures were displayed on a strip of paper.
When the drum, located on a spindle base, is spun, the pictures are quickly replaced before their eyes, without them even realizing it. In all, there are three types of zoetropes—linear, subway, and 3D.
1. Linear Zoetropes
A dense liner screen with thin vertical slits. Behind the slit is a picture, which is illuminated.
2. Subway Zoetropes
Director Bill Brand modified the linear zoetrope to create the subway zoetrope. He installed it at Myrtle Avenue station and called it the Masstransiscope. The device had a wall with 228 slits and behind each slit, there was a painted panel. When people passed it, they could see moving pictures.
3. 3D Zoetropes
It contains drums with slits and uses flashing strobe light to illuminate the picture, making it seem as if it is one single animated object.
Without the invention of zoetropes, we wouldn't have movies, cartoons, or TV shows.