THE DIFFUSION OF INNOVATION IN THE EARLY FILM
INDUSTRY: THE BIRTH OF TALKIES
B. A. University of Colorado 1993
A thesis submitted to The University of
Colorado at Denver in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of
Master of Humanities
This thesis for the Marster of Humanities
Moreton, Jr. Carroll (MH)
The Diffusion of Innovation in the Early Film Industry : The Birth of Talkies
Thesis directed by Professor Jon A. Winterton
The innovation that successfully brought sound to motion pictures in the
1920s was developed at AT&Ts Bell Laboratories and its predecessor, the Western
Electric Engineering Department. The telephone company had not set out to invent
talking pictures. Its strategic goal was perfection of the national telephone network.
Among the technologies developed in this effort were amplifiers, loud speaking
telephones (i. e. loudspeakers), condenser microphones, and electrical sound
recording and reproduction. In 1922, AT&T R&D executive E. B. Craft concluded
that his company had all the pieces necessary for the addition of sound to movies
except for a means to synchronize sound and picture, a task on which he put a team of
engineers to work. By 1924, AT&T had produced a complete working system.
The first film made with the AT&T technology was Warner Bros. Don Juan
in 1926. By 1929, the entire motion picture industry had committed to sound, and the
silent motion picture era was over.
Western Electric established a subsidiary, Electrical Research Products Inc.
(or ERPI), in 1927 to assume commercial exploitation of the technology. It worked
with the motion picture industry to develop commercial sound film production, and
with the theater owners to equip thousands of theaters to show sound film. Thus
technology developed by the research and development effort of one communication
industry produced a revolution in another and furthermore fostered adoption that was
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. INTRODUCTION 1
2. FINDING THE MARKET: 1925-1928 15
3. BUILDING THE BUSINESS: 1928-1931 24
4. CONSEQUENCES 33
ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY 37
August 6, 1926, in New York City: A crowd gathered outside Broadways
Warners Theatre for the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures latest extravaganza. Don
Juan, starring John Barrymore. There was something special about this premier. It
was the debut of the new motion picture sound system; vitaphone. The program
announced that this system for recorded synchronized motion picture sound was
presented by arrangement with Western Electric Company and Bell Telephone
Laboratories and two units of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company
(AT&T). The Vitaphone was not a single piece of equipment; it was a complex
system of many independent parts (Gomery 136-143).
The cost of the addition of sound to motion pictures started with the live
vaudeville acts that typically opened major picture shows; they were now absent, as
were the musicians who normally accompanied the popular silent film of the era.
Instead there was machinery, a technological cluster, which Rogers describes as, one
or more distinguishable elements of technology that are perceived as being closely
interrelated (Rogers235), large acoustic horns connected to electrical loudspeakers
by wire to amplifiers, phonocartridges, and turntables in the projection room. The
discs on the turntable were in turn synchronized with the picture. A series of short
sound films replaced the live acts. As for Don Juan it self, the equipment reproduced
the prerecorded performance of the score by the New York Philharmonic. To judge
from the articles in the next days newspapers the feature film was the least impressive
part of the evening. As Quinn Martin wrote in The New York World, You may have
the Don Juan. Leave me the Vitaphone.
While the sound movie era is usually dated to no earlier than the premiere of
Don Juan, the idea of linking recorded sounds with moving pictures was not new in
1926. The re-invention of systems combining recorded sights and sounds had
appeared periodically from the beginning of motion pictures in the 1890s. The last
and most prominent of these attempts was the Kinetophone, which emerged from
Thomas Edisons Laboratory in 1913. The Kinetophone was a significantly more
advanced technological system than its many predecessors. But like the other early
attempts, it failed, costing its exhibitors, a major vaudeville circuit, considerable
expense. Its synchronization was often poor, its sound volume inadequate, and the
films themselves were found uninteresting once the novelty wore off. The technical
uncertainty and Kinetophones failure was widely known by both the public and the
trade, and served as the clinching evidence in the minds of Hollywood moguls that
sound motion pictures would not work, and thus slow the diffusion process. The
diffusion process takes place when an innovation is communicated over time among
members of a group. This type of communication in concerned with new ideas, and
the new ideas means that there is some degree of uncertainty involved. Uncertainty
refers to the possibilities of success and of failure. Furthermore the communication of
such new ideas and the exchange of information reduces the uncertainty and may
Sound pictures were likely to reappear only from outside the industry, from
some group that was not convinced that sound pictures could not work. The
reappearance came from AT&T, where it developed logically from telephone research.
(Shifrin 50-54, 115-125)
THE INNOVATION, INVENTING THE SYSTEM: 1912-1924
The scientists and engineers of the Western Electric Engineering Department
had things other than motion pictures on their minds in 1911. Their concern was
research and development that would lead to better telephones and telephone
transmission. Their single most important problem was the limited distance over
which a telephone conversation could be transmitted. Long-distance service had just
been established between New York and Denver but this was the limit possible with
then-current technology. What was needed was a device to amplify the small electrical
current that carried the conversations.
Lee de Forest, an independent inventor, offered the telephone company a
possible answer in October 1912 with the audion, the first three-element vacuum tube.
While the device was still too crude and weak to be practical, it did amplify electrical
signals. Harold D. Arnold, a recent Ph. D. under Robert Millikan at the University
of Chicago, was particularly impressed. He immediately grasped the underlying
scientific principle in a way de Forest had not. The key area for understanding the
phenomenon, electron physics, was a part of Arnoldss curriculum at Chicago, but had
not been a part of de Forests when he took his doctorate at Yale in the 1890s.
Arnold took on the assignment of developing the audion into a practical device. After
Arnold demonstrated that the audion had promise, AT&T bought de Forests patent.
By increasing the level of the vacuum in the tube, Arnold developed it into a practical
electronic voltage amplifier. By the end of 1914, Amlods amplifiers had been tested
successfully over telephone lines from New York to San Francisco. Commercial
service followed soon thereafter (Aitken 126-249).
Irving Langmuir of the General Electric Co. independently and simultaneously
developed the audion into a practical high-vacuum tube for use as a voltage amplifier.
Such independent invention is far from uncommon in the history of technology.
Langmuirs claim for priority prevailed in the patent office, which issued him a patent
in 1925. But, by then, AT&T and General Electric had a broad cross-licensing
agreement that made the question of patent priority largely moot (Reich 87-88).
Western Electric engineers soon applied the amplifier to other pending
problems. Public address systems were among the first. Loud-peaking telephones (or
loudspeakers as they became known) would make it possible for many people to hear
simultaneously what only one could hear through a conventional telephone receiver.
With amplifiers and specially designed loudspeakers capable of handling the increase
currents, it became feasible to fill a stadium or indoor arena. Western Electric
development proceeded to the stage of field tests in large arenas before work stopped
for World War I. By early 1020, a team of engineers including Joseph Maxfield,
Lyman Morehouse, and R. L. Jones had a system they considered a commercial
prototype rather than an experimental design. The first major showcases for the new
Western Electric public address systems were the 1920 presidential conventions and
the inauguration of President Harding the following March. But it was the use of the
system on November, 11,1921, when Harding dedicated the Tomb of the Unknown
Soldier, that captured the publics imagination. Not only was his address heard via
loudspeakers by thousands at Arlington national Cemetery, but his voice was also
transmitted over long-distance telephone lines to loudspeakers systems in New York
and San Francisco. Mass media channels are important at the knowledge stag in
helping an innovation become known. By the end of 1922, Western Electric public
address systems had become a standard item of commerce, with applications ranging
as far afield as motion picture production, where they enabled a director to give
simultaneous instructions to thousands of extras in crowd scenes. At least one other
firm, the Magnavox Company of Oakland, CA, developed an amplified public address
system in the same period, and competed widely with Western Electric for
installations. (Morgan 69-76)
Still others in the Western Electric Engineering Department undertook
fundamental scientific studies on sound in the belief that such knowledge would lead
to improved quality in telephone transmission. Edward C. Wente joined the
Department in 1914 to work on research involving the design and calibration of a
uniformly sensitive transmitter (or microphone) for use in sound studies. The carbon-
button transmitters used in telephone receivers had too uneven a frequency response
and too much background noise for sound research. With Arnolds amplifier available
to augment the extremely weak signals, Wente, in 1916 turned a previously useless
device known as an electrostatic transmitter into the first flat frequency response
microphone or, as Wente called it, the condenser transmitter. He published his results
in a theoretical paper in The Physical Review the following year. In 1922, he
produced a condenser transmitter with 100 times greater sensitivity, which was
enough to make it a practical device, although its high impedance required its direct
connection to a vacuum tube preamplifier without long intervening wires (Wente 39-
The researches in the sound studies also need to record and reproduce sound.
The phonographs of the era were acoustic-mechanical devices that were too limited
and uneven in frequency response, and could not be coupled directly to telephone
lines. In the acoustic phonograph, the recording artist spoke or played into a large
acoustic recording horn, at the end of which was a recording stylus poised over a
spinning disk of highly polished soft wax. The apparatus directly converted the sound
energy into mechanical energy, which moved the stylus to trace a groove on the disk.
There seemed to be two likely paths to electrical recording. Either the
phonograph could be engineered into a suitable device, or the sound could be
translated into patterns recordable on photographic film. Western Electric did some
work on the latter in 1913, but work began in earnest only after World War I.
Assistant Chief Engineer E. B. Craft assigned a group under J. Maxfield to develop
an electrical (or more properly, an electromagnetic) version of the acoustic disc
phonograph, and a second under E. C. Wente, Irving Crandall, and Donald
MacKenzie to investigate sound-on-film recording. By mid-1922, Maxfieds group
had succeeded in producing an experimental prototype system for electrical disc
recording, using Wentes condenser microphone and amplifiers based on Arnolds
designs. In the new system, a condenser microphone converted the musicians sound
energy into electrical energy, which underwent amplification before being converted
into mechanical energy at the recording stylus. The stylus, as before, scratched a
groove in a spinning wax disk. While the acoustic recording horn picked only sounds
aimed directly at it, the microphone was sensitive to more distant sounds. This
allowed an orchestra to sit more normally, but it also meant that room acoustics and
reverberations had to be studied and considered in equipment design. E. B. Craft
encouraged Maxfield to develop the system further for use in consumer phonographs.
This required two years of additional work. In 1925, Maxfield and his group also
reengineered the phonograph, but it remained an acoustic-mechanical device, as the
reproducer, now equipped with an acoustically designed horn, could fill an average
household room with sound without using electrical amplification. The two major
record companies, Victor and Columbia, took licenses from Western Electric and
switched to the new technology (Gelatt 219-214).
In the meantime, Crandall and Wente had succeeded in developing a prototype
system for translating the electrical impulses from a microphone into variable-density
light patterns on photographic film. Wente invented the light valve, a shutter of
stretched metallic ribbon, to vary accurately the amount of light that reached and
exposed moving film. In the light valve, the thin slit formed by a looped ribbon varied
in width with the applied electrical current. A constant light source shone through the
slit a moving photographic film, exposing a variable-density pattern on the film. After
development, the film was played back between a constant light source and a
photoelectric cell. The cell sent electrical signals analogous to the patterns of
exposure on to an amplifier. Optical recording remained, in the view of the AT&T
engineers of the mid-1920s; a more experimental system not ready for commercial
exploitation (Wente 657-665).
Amplifiers, loudspeakers, microphones, and electrical recording had all been
undertaken as part of AT&Ts efforts to improve the telephone network that was its
main business. But by 1922, Research Administrator E. B. Craft had become
interested in exploiting these several projects towards sound motion pictures. He
championed this through the higher echelons of Western Electric and AT&T, and won
approval to proceed. On October 27, 1922, Craft, now chief Engineer of Western
Electric, gave a presentation of several technical wonders recently developed by
AT&T to a section meeting of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers at Yale
University. For his finale, he gave the first public demonstration of AT&Ts work in
making motion pictures talk when he presented a silent film on how amplifiers worked
with a prerecorded lecture substituting for the customary live commentary. The
speaker, Western Electric Engineer Stanely S. A. Watkins, sat in the auditorium and
listened to his own recorded voice. The reporter covering the meeting for the
societys journal was more impressed with the public address system than with the
talking movie (Watkins 149).
This demonstration included all the components needed for sound motion
pictures except one: accurate and automatic synchronization of sound and picture.
The company, at Crafts urging, decided in early 1923 to proceed with the two related
problems of synchronized recording and play back. The latter was the more straight-
forward. Maxfield, and Hugh Stoller and Harry Phannenstiehl, leading groups under
him, solved the problem by the end of the year by running both projector and turntable
off a single motor with appropriate gearing ratios and a mechanical filter system to
screen vibrations. Synchronized recording proved somewhat more difficult, largely
because it was necessary to keep the recorder stationary to prevent vibrations while
allowing camera motion. In the late 1924, Stoller produced an arrangement wherein
the recorder and cameras were held in mechanical synchronization only until they came
up to operating speed. Standard phonograph records played for only a few minutes,
but sound film required a disc that played for 10 minutes, the length of a reel of film
Maxfield calculated that an oversized 17 phonograph record playing at 40 revolutions
per minute would be sufficient to accompany a reel of film playing at 75 feet per
minute. This was far from the then standard 23 in. 78 rpm disc (Maxfield 200-204).
Craft was aware that at least four groups besides AT&T were applying the
new electrical technology to the development of sound motion pictures. L. de Forest
began demonstrating a sound-on-film system in April 1923. Several AT&T engineers
who went to these demonstrations reported back unimpressed, and also, reportedly
were the picture studios and, once the novelty wore off, the ticket-buying public.
Theodore Case, an independent engineer who had previously worked closely with de
Forest, had invented a sound-on-film system using what he call an AEOlight, a light
source that varied in intensity with electrical current to provide the light to expose a
variable-intensity optical track. A group at General Electric was experimenting with a
variable area sound-on-film recording system that had been invented at the companys
laboratories in 1921 by Charles Hoxie. Hoxie named his system the Pallophotophone
(i.e. wobbling light phone). It used a Dudell Oscillogragh galvanometer, a small
mirror, and two ribbons to produce a variable-width exposure pattern on the film.
Finally, a team of Danish inventors had demonstrated a system in Copenhagen,
although they kept the details of its operation a secret. (13) The success of these
competitive efforts and AT&Ts own led Craft in October 1923 to formally propose to
AT&T management that the company undertake development of a commercial system
for sound motion pictures that could be sold to the motion picture industry. As he
wrote to Western Electric Vice President Frank Jewett, it seems obvious that we are
in the best position of anyone to develop and manufacture the best apparatus and
systems for the use in this field. Management agreed, and Western Electric
proceeded towards the dual goals of perfecting a commercial system and attracting
customers for it.
Work proceeded. The engineers set up a small laboratory studio to make
experimental talking pictures. These pictures, now lost, were designed more to learn
how to simultaneously record sound and picture than anything else. The featured such
immortal acts as Engineer Stanley Watkins singing How Dry I Am. The engineers
found that the noises from the Bell and Howell silent camera they used were picked up
by the sound recorder. They temporarily solved that problem by putting the camera
outside the studio window on an adjacent flat roof (Watkins 150-151).
In May 1924, the Western Electric Sales Department approached the motion
picture industry. The three largest companies [Famous Players-Lasky (Paramount),
Leows (MGM), and First National] and several second-tier films expressed their
complete lack of interest. They had seen sound picture systems many times before,
and they knew that sound pictures would not work. Moreover, they had a tremendous
investment in the thriving picture industry, which they had no logical reason to risk for
what they were convinced, from past experience, was a chimera. In addition the
uncertainty typifies the traits of the late majority, as described by Rogers, who
explains in his book, The late majority is persuaded by an economic necessity and
thus they are, skeptical and cautious and dont adopt until most others in their system
have done so(Rogers 265). Rogers goes on to state that, the weight of system
norms must definitely favor an innovation before the late majority are
convinced(Rogers 265). E. B. Craft then turned successively to two outsiders, first
Charles Post and then Walter Rich, whom he hoped could attract film industry
attention where Western Electric salesman, used to working with internal Bell System
customers, had failed. Success would depend on Rich and Posts amount of effort
spent in communication activities with clients (Rogers 339). In February 1925, Rich
and Western Electric agreed that he would work for a company to commercially
exploit the sound film system, but a formal memorandum was not signed until May 27,
1925. Rich obtained the agreement just in time; an interested producer was about to
appear in Warner Bros. Pictures, a respected second-tier firm (Gomery 119-135).
FINDING THE MARKET: 1925-1928
The four Warner brothers were not content with owning a medium-sized
studio. They were cautious and plotted expansion. In 1924, they became the first
production company to obtain a substantial line of bank credit. With this, they
acquired the means to finance more lavish productions, theaters in several cities, and
the failing Vitagraph Studio, which had a national distribution system. They also, at
Sam Warners urging, embraced the new technology of radio broadcasting as a means
of film promotion and contracted with Western Electric to install broadcast equipment
at their new station in Los Angeles. Sam Warners behavior is indicative of an
Innovator as stated by Rogers in Diffusion of Innovations; Venturesomeness is
almost an obsession with innovators. This interest in new ideas leads them out of a
local circle of peer networks and into more cosmopolite social relationships. Being an
innovator has several prerequisites. Control of substantial financial resources is helpful
to absorb the possible loss from an unprofitable innovation. The ability to understand
and apply complex technical knowledge is also needed. The innovator must be able to
cope with a high degree of uncertainty about an innovation at the time of adoption.
The innovator must also be willing to accept an occasional setback when a new idea
proves unsuccessful, as inevitably happens. While an innovator plays an important role
in the diffusion process: That of launching the new idea in the system by importing the
innovation from outside the systems boundaries. Thus, the innovator plays a
gatekeeping role in the flow of new ideas in the system(Rogers 264). Thus not only
was Sam Warner an innovator, but Rich an excellent change agent. Rich was able to
diagnose The Warner Bros, needs; this is illustrated in Richs, success in securing
adoption was positively related to the degree to which the diffusion program was
compatible with his clients needs(Rogers 340).
Nathan Levinson, the Western Electric field engineer in charge of this
installation, decided that Sam Warner, as an enthusiast of new technologies, would be
impressed by the new Western Electric sound motion picture system and would find it
the tool needed to complete the Warners assault on the industry. Warner accompanied
Levinson to a Demonstration in New York, and was convinced. He, in turn,
convinced his brother Harry. Harry saw the new technology as a way to present
musical accompaniment to silent pictures, without relying on live orchestras. Here
was a way to bring the great live acts of the metropolitan first-run houses to theaters
everywhere. Harry agreed to Warner Bros, experimentation with sound pictures, but
with an initial emphasis on music rather than talk. Walter Rich sold a half-interest in
his newly granted development rights to Warner Bros, on June 25, 1925 and Rich and
Warner Bros, set up a company, the Vitaphone Corporation, to engage in joint
experimentation with Western Electric in the production and exhibition of sound
motion pictures (Warner 319-335).
It took Sam Warner and Bell Laboratories Engineer Stanley Watkins until
October to adapt Warners Vitagraph studio in Brooklyn for experimentation. Then,
Watkins and his team of engineers taught the Warner people about sound, and the
Warners group taught Watkins how pictures were made. As Rogers suggests, . .
a change agency may find it useful to promote a cluster or package of innovations to
clients...(235). Dlustrated here is an excellent example of a technological cluster,
defined by Rogers as consisting, of one or more distinguishable elements of
technology that are perceived as being closely related Progress was largely by trial
and error. Silent film stages were noisy places; the picture people had to learn how to
work in silence. The camera used proved too noisy for the sensitive microphones;
they were incased in thick sound-proofed booths, with glass window through which
the film could be shot. The microphones themselves were large, heavy, and immobile.
Much artifice went into hiding them behind objects on the set. The studio klieg lights
produced electrical noise that marred the recordings, so banks of incandescent lights
were brought in. This, in turn, necessitated the use of different makeup and a newly-
developed more sensitive film. These problems and others were overcome, and by
spring the studio was producing musical shorts, suitable for screening. Rich, Warner,
and several AT&T officials were now sufficiently confident of success that they
negotiated, and on April 20, 1926 signed, a contract giving the Vitaphone Corporation
exclusive license to produce sound pictures using the Western Electric system and to
equip theaters with Western Electric sound systems for picture exhibition. The
contract envisioned that other producers would become interested and take out
sublicenses from Vitaphone.
The engineers at Bell Laboratories (as the Western Electric Engineering
Department had been renamed and reorganized in 1925) all knew that their system was
going to reach the pubic and their work moved to another stage as they turned
prototype models into streamlined designs that could be manufactured in quantity.
This required reengineering parts of the recording and reproducing systems to make
them more rugged and simpler, because the equipment would be operated by less
skilled or careful technicians and projectionists in the field and in front of audiences
who would be less tolerant of interruption. The technology needed to be made
invisible to the viewing public, who would expect entertainment and not
demonstrations of technology. It was also necessary to draft specifications, and
purchase parts such as motors and loudspeaker horns from outside suppliers, work
with Western Electric manufacturing plants to develop production schedules and
modifications to the specifications that would make production practical, and calculate
the prices to be charged. The Bell labs engineers also accepted the Warner
recommendation that sound film be projected at a faster speed of 90 feet per minute,
which in turn led them to a disc of 16 diameter, playing at a speed of 33 1/3 rpm from
the center out. This anticipation of consequences helped insure the success of the
sound system. Warner Bros, also anticipated the audiences expectations in
considering the events to take place opening night (Rogers 491).
Harry Warner now designed an opening Vitaphone program to mimic as much
as possible a standard major silent bill. There would be an opening speech by Will
Hays, President of the industrys trade association, a series of recorded musical and
singing shorts, and, after intermission, the premiere of Warner Bros. most lavish film
to date, Don Juan, accompanied by a prerecorder, specially composed score. The
premiere would take place as soon as the films and the newly purchased Warners
Theatre were ready. In the meantime, Vitaphone sound film production moved to the
acoustically superior manhattan Opera House, where Sam Warner produced the
shorts for the opening and, in July, recorded the New York Philharmonic playing the
score to Don Juan. Conductor Henry Hadley watched the recently completed silent
film for his cues as he led the orchestra. Meanwhile, sound engineers on loan from
Bell Laboratories to the Vitaphone Corporation measured the acoustics and installed
equipment in the Warners Theatre. This led to a rush job for a Bell Laboratories team
including E. C. Wente and A. L. Thuras, as the available loudspeakers proved
insufficiently powerful for quality reproduction in that theater. The opening date was
set for August 6, the earliest that the theater would be ready. Don Juan premiered
that night, and the sound motion picture era was launched (Watkins 289-295)
Western Electric formed a new subsidiary, Electrical Research Products Inc.
(or ERPI). to assume Westerns sound picture and other non-telephone business as of
January 1, 1927. Western management, especially ERPI General Manager J. E.
Otterson, had become dissatisfied with what it saw as the inadequate resources and
deliberate pace of Warners efforts. Otterson pushed Warner to re-negotiate its
contract to cede theater installation and relations with other motion picture producers
to ERPI. Warner resisted but ERPI had the upper hand, and the two parties signed a
new set of agreements on May 18. With this, Vitaphone Corporation and Warner
Bros, became a nonexclusive licensee of ERPI for sound picture recording
technology. Warner also bought Walter Richs share of Vitaphone. Warner continued
its employ of Vitaphone. In July it began production in Hollywood where it had
constructed the first studio designed for sound pictures.
The Fox Film Corporation, a company similar in size to Warner Bros. ,
became interested in sound in 1926. In July, William Fox acquired the AEOlight (a
variable-density sound-on-film recording system) from its inventor Theodore Case.
The New Fox-Case Corporation had neither a license to use vacuum tube amplifiers
nor a satisfactory public address system with which to present its Movietone films,
so in December it acquired a license to use Western Electric equipment. Bell
Laboratories engineers soon developed a combined theater-producing machine that
contained the necessary equipment for playing Movietone sound-on-film and
Vitaphone sound-on-disc productions through the same projectors, amplifiers, and
loudspeakers. ERPI began installing these in theaters in May 1927. Fox conceived
sound newsreels as an alternative approach to innovations in sound. Fox-Case
presented its first newsreel, featuring marching West Point cadets, on April 20 in a
Western Electric equipped theater, and gained public acclaim on May 21, 1927 by
showing a Movietone short of Charles Lindbergh taking off for Paris one day after the
event. In September, Fox premiered Sunrise, its first film with a synchronized musical
sound track. By October, new Fox Movietone newsreels appeared weekly. Exhibitors
fortunate enough to have theaters equipped with the new Western Electric dual
equipment advertised programs combining Fox newsreels and shorts with Vitaphone
shorts and features (Sponable 275-303, 407-422).
Warner continued its steady production of Vitaphone shorts and synchronized
sound features through the 1926-1927 season, releasing as many as five new shorts a
week. Sam and Harry Warner also planned their next advance. They had purchased
the rights to the Broadway musical success, The Jazz Singer. This film, they
announced to the press, would be the first feature with live Vitaphone sequences.
The films star, the immensely popular vaudeville performer A1 Jolson, would sing
several numbers in what was otherwise a silent'film.
The Jazz Singer premiered October 6, 1927 at Warners Theatre. The
invitations for the opening gala announced that New songs and old favorites will by
sung by Mr. Jolson during the action of the story on the Vitaphone. The program
listed each of the songs. But the audience in the theater heard something more: during
two of the Vitaphoned scenes, Jolson interrupted his singing and talked, declaiming
between songs the soon-to-be-famous words wait a minute, wait a minute, you aint
heard nothing yet. While Vitaphone had previously released several narrative shorts,
this was the first talking in a Hollywood feature. The film played to large crowds in
New York, including an unprecedented second run on Broadway the following spring.
It became the biggest hit of the 1927-1928 season, even though there were still few
theaters where The Jazz Singer could be heard. While ERPI continued wiring theaters
for sound, by the end of 1927 only 157 theaters had been equipped, including 55 with
the newer dual-mode projectors. Sound was not yet everywhere, but it seemed
destined to be (Walker 29-58).
Warner Bros, pushed ahead. It announced in January 1928 that all its future
films would have Vitaphoned sequences. And of the many shorts that company was
producing at its Hollywood sound studios, The Lights of New York kept growing in
length until it became a fifty-seven minute feature. It was released on July 27, 1928 as
the first all-talking picture. But Jolsons second part talkie, The Singing Fool, released
on September 19, 1928, proved the greatest early success. Sam and Harry Warners
commitment to sound proved a winning bet, and Warner Bros, was on its way to the
BUILDING THE BUSINESS: 1928-1931
While the other film companies seemed content to let Warner Bros. Fox, and
ERPI take the risks and work out the inevitable bugs in the new sound technology.
On February 17, 1927, Paramount-Famous Players-Lasky, Loews (MGM), First
National, Universal, and the Producers Distributing Corporation signed an agreement
to study the sound question for one year, and then jointly select a single system. All
wished to avoid the possibly disastrous consequences of separate decisions to use
incompatible systems that would prevent theaters from exhibiting all available
products. Conveniently, a well-financed alternative system appeared in January 1927.
David Samoff, Managing Officer of the then-new Radio Corporation of America
(RCA), had approached the movie industry, offering them the RCA Photophone, a
revived version of the variable area sound-on-film system developed a few years earlier
by RCAs part-owner General Electric. Roy Pomeroy of Paramount the committees
Technical Advisor, found both systems satisfactory. ERPI, by this time, was offering a
combination package of sound-on-disc and sound-on film, the latter with either the
Case-Fox AEOlight or the Wente light valve for recording. The committee began
negotiating, playing one company off against the other in an effort to secure the most
favorable terms. Early in 1928, the producers selected ERPI, at least in part because
only ERPI would take responsibility for equipment manufacture and theater
installation, tasks with which the producers did not want to be involved. Four large
studios signed contracts with ERPI on May 11, 1928. Others soon followed. Almost
immediately, the producers announced plans for the production and release of sound
pictures, and the conversion of the theaters they controlled to show the new
For John Otterson, by now President of ERPI, this was a happy conclusion.
Now only had he licensed most of Hollywood but he had retained what he saw as the
lucrative and desirable business of wiring the nations theaters for sound and then
servicing the installed equipment.
RCA, for its part, responded by buying several smaller film companies, as well
as the Keith-Albee-Orpheum vaudeville chain (for its theaters). As RKO Radio
Pictures, this company proceeded to establish the RCA/GE system as a viable
competitor in film production, while RCAs Photophone unit competed with ERPX in
theater installations and studio sound equipment (Danielian 110-165).
Both the producers and ERPI now moved quickly. ERPI began the usual
process of equipping studio stages and training industry personal in the new
technology. Stanley Watkins who was often Western Electrics chief representative in
joint work with Warner Bros. returned to ERPI from the Vitaphone Corporation to
supervise this effort for the next year. He later recalled that the studio heads
considered him the font of sound film knowledge, while he actually knew little more
than they did and was simply figuring it out as he went along. The industrys new
Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences coordinated knowledge of sound
technique. By December 1928, ERPI had installed 70 amplifying channels. 100 disc
recorders, and 60 film recorders in the studios (Watkins 158-160).
Equipping the studios was only half of the equation; thousands of theaters had
to be wired to show the new films. In 1928, ERPI installed 879 theaters systems (for a
total of 1046). ERPI wired an additional 2,391 theaters the next. Sound installation
was an expensive proposition. Equipping a large, metropolitan first-run theater could
easily run to $25, 000 plus ongoing leasing charges. ERPI concentrated its efforts into
1929 on these larger theaters. It did not even offer a less expensive system designed
for a smaller theater for delivery until after June. ERJPI scramble to keep up with the
demand, hiring and training hundreds of installation and service personnel, establishing
networks of regional offices, and redesigning equipment for easier installation and
maintenance. Still, the backlog of orders at one point exceeded 1000.
Through 1928 and into 1929, each company went through a learning curve
similar to that which Warner Bros, had been going through since 1925, only more
compressed in time. Due to both an economic necessity, and the result of increasing
network pressure. The producers went from adding synchronized sound tracks to
already completed silent films through grafting a few scenes of dialog or song onto
films conceived as silence, planning their first full talking feature, and announcing that
in the future they would make only sound pictures. Similarly, each went from
retrofitting existing studios for sound to building completely new studios designed for
sound wok. Universal, for example, rushed into sound production by borrowing a
newsreel sound truck ostensibly to test their studios, and shooting a picture before Fox
found out. Paramount began in June with a temporary setup which they used to film a
talking sequence to add to an already completed silent film. In November, Paramount
released Interference, its first all-talking movie. In 1929 was the year that the talkies
conquered Hollywood and the silents died. The transition to sound was amply
rewarding to the entire industry, but most especially to the companies that had taken
the initial risks. Warner Bros, used its profits from sound to acquire a larger
competitor, First National, and along with Fox and RKO, joined Paramount and MGM
as the leading companies in Hollywood (Hilliard 45-60).
It is more difficult to trace technological development through this period of
diffusion than for the earlier periods. The technology itself, and understanding of is
capabilities, was advancing rapidly in many places at once. No one seems to know
who first thought of putting microphones on mobile to restore some of the silent
cinemas movement to the screen. The innovation appeared in several studios at once,
as practical engineers coped with the daily problems presented by the new technology.
Similarly, lightweight blimps, acoustic plastic hoods for cameras appeared and
replaced the heavy isolation booths, allowing still more of the motion of the silent film
to return to the screen.
Engineers at ERPI in Hollywood and Bell Laboratories in New York made
dozens of incremental improvements from better damping for recording turntables to
massive editing consoles for Vitaphone recordings to putting the microphone amplifier
in a tube the same diameter as the microphone, so the whole apparatus could be more
easily mounted and moved. Bell Laboratories constructed a new building in New
York exclusively for sound picture development. RCA changed the width of its
Photophone sound track so that used by ERPI for its sound-on-film. This had little
consequence for making pictures, but it made it possible to reproduce films recorded
in the two systems on the same equipment, thereby ending problems of incompatibility
before they began. All the projectionist had to do was change a single, easily replaced
While several studios experimented with both sound-on-disc and sound-on-
film, all but Warner Bros, had settled on the latter by the end of 1929. It was simply
easier to work with and to edit. Several studios continued to record on both disc and
film. Film was preferred for editing and final release, but only disc could be played
back immediately for the director to see if the sound take was satisfactory. Sound-on-
film gained additional technical advantages in 1930 when ERPI introduced two
innovations from Bell Laboratories: a narrower and more sensitive light valve and a
new quieter recording system. Fox switched it studio, but its newsreel production
from AEOlight to the light valve. Warner Bros, abandoned sound-on-disc the next
year (Morgan 268-285).
ERPI bought much of the technological style and ways of doing business
developed by AT&T for the telephone system to the theater business, even though
theaters were a different market. ERPI designs and policy consistently favored
quality, performance, and reliability over price. ERPI required that the sound system
be custom-installed in each theater to provide clear, intelligible sound to every seat.
Dr. S. K. Wolf, and acoustics expert from Yale University joined ERPI to lead this
effort. Bell Laboratories developed baffles, reflective devices, and new types of horns
to permit satisfactory reproduction in theaters built with no consideration of acoustics.
ERPI established a network of hundreds of service engineers and supply warehouses
around the country, and boasted that no theater was more than a half-day from needed
expertise and parts for repairs. It required that all licensees have service contracts for
weekly inspection and maintenance of the system. Like the rest of the Bell system,
ERPI only leased its equipment, and did not sell it. In its advertisements to theater
owners and the general public alike, it stressed the superior quality that Western
Electric sound systems provided. Other companies appeared, offering less expensive
alternatives for outright sale, which appealed to theater owners who did not find
advantages in ongoing obligations to ERPI. While Western Electric Systems
predominated in the largest theaters, several smaller regional companies held
significant shares of the rural and subsequent-run markets. Only RCA competed
across the board on the basis of quality and performance. By January 1932, the job of
wiring existing theaters for sound is complete. Only 2% of open theaters in the
country were still showing silent pictures and these were virtually all marginal houses
in isolated areas. ERPIs share of the market, measured by the number of installation,
had fallen to 37%.
In the mid-1930s, AT&T partially retreated from the sound motion picture
business. It first responded to commercial pressure from theaters with ERPI
installations who believed their contracts imposed to heavy an ongoing financial
burden, and discontinued mandatory leasing and servicing of theater equipment. In
1937, ERPI left the motion picture theater business entirely. Wiring the nations
theaters had been lucrative and amenable to strategies borrowed from the telephone
industry. Maintaining the installed customer base in the face of competitive pressures
proved otherwise. AT&T remained active in providing sound equipment to movie
studios for another twenty years, leaving thousands of films with the credit line Sound
by Western Electric.
In the history of the motion picture industry no technological innovation
brought so much impact and change to its form and structure, to its directional and
acting styles, and to its content and themes, as did the successful, commercial,
widespread introduction of sound. One other consequence is the fate of the
instrumentalists who worked in vaudeville and silent theaters. Sound films silenced
musicians as quickly as talkies ended the careers of silent screen stars who spoke
poorly. New sound technology enabled theater musicians in wholesale fashion. By
1934, about 20,000 theater musicians, perhaps a quarter to a third of the nations
professional instrumentalists, had lost their jobs. It is important to note that due to the
popularity of silent films, the musicians national labor union, The American
Federation of Musicians, had gained considerable power. And by employing the
philosophy of the general trade union movement and focus primarily on improving
wages and working conditions the unions membership grew to more than 100,000
members. This break in the traditional view of musician as strictly artist fueled much
controversy. Another older union, the National league of Musicians was opposed to
any association with the working class. And despite the fact that the publics response
to the new technology was positive. The unions waged a long and futile battle against
recorded music in the theaters. One union official, H. P. Moore published an appeal
in the Los Angeles Citizen: Substitution of mechanical music inevitably means a
debasement of the art of music. Our national music will be seriously affected, if
canned music. . reduces the musicians opportunities of employment. Where will
the young musicians of the future gain the incentive to perfect his art if a mere handful
of recording artists are supplying all the music needed." As their professional
prospects evaporated, thousands of professional instrumentalists who had believed,
naively as it turned out, that live music in theaters was a permanent fixture of public
entertainment learned otherwise. Sound movies forced musicians to realize they were
vulnerable to the forces of technological change (Gomery 845).
AT&T had not set out to transform the motion picture industry; its technical
goal was to perfect its main business, the national telephone network. The amplifiers
and the sound research discussed here were part of a larger research and development
program directed towards that goal. But AT&T research administration, here in the
person of E. B. Craft, was open to the potential applicability of that research for
commercial exploitation elsewhere. While Craft himself did none of the research, he
was as important to the projects success as the men who did. For it was he who saw
this as a profitable market for AT&T, provided the guidance, secured the necessary
resources, and championed the idea of sound motion pictures within the corporation.
And like many research directors elsewhere, he found his company willing to
undertake the challenge.
But as this research moved from applications in telephony to those in
entertainment, it carried with it considerable extra baggage in the form of a
technological style, a way in which AT&T assumed from years of practice in
telecommunications that technology should be Exploited and business done. Thus,
AT&T insisted on quality and reliability at the expense of price, on leasing instead of
sales, and on continued heavy applied research for improving the product. Managers
like craft and Otterson grasped that there were limits to how far afield the company
could stretch its expertise. Telephony was a medium whose subscribers provided their
own content. AT&T approached motion pictures in the same way: it sought and
achieved a profitable partnership with outside content providers, the existing
Hollywood studios. In this, it stood in contrast to its competitor RCA, which found in
film production and theater ownership an alternate strategy to achieve its technical
goals. AT&Ts style shaped the coming of sound to movies in ways that went beyond
the important characteristics inherent in the technology itself. And when that style
proved inappropriate in the competitive marketplace of theater owners during the
depression of the 1930s, AT&T chose to withdraw. That the transition to sound
came from outside the motion picture industry is far from atypical. Existing industries
carry their own technical styles that may make them resistant to dramatic change.
Hollywood had seen attempts at sound fail before, and thus was disinclined to believe
that sound could be made to work with film. Moreover, the major studios did not find
it in their interest to upset what had become a lucrative apple cart. It took a company,
AT&T, whose baggage included neither the previous failures of sound nor an interest
in the status quo to push Hollywood to change.
Altman, Rick. Sound Theory, Sound Practice. New York: Routledge, 1992.
Altman contributes, and edits this volume. Other contributions includes essays
on theoretical perspectives, historical speculations, and neglected domains. Sound is
an often neglected element in film, difficult to talk about because it effects are below
the threshold of consciousness, yet very important to response. Altman has gathered
together an interesting collection of studies of the evolution of the technology and
craft/art of film sound.
Andrew, Geoff. The Film Handbook. New York: Hall, 1989.
This is a chronological and critical guide to film. Entries present biographical
and other factual information about the directors, and critiques of their work. Also
there is an excellent film glossary, list of film books, and country-by-country
Ankerrich, Michael G. Broken Silence. Conversations with 23 Silent film
Stars. Jefferson: McFarland, 1993.
An excellent book in helping to understand the silent era better. Ankerrich
talked to those who were enthusiastic about sharing memories of their lives and
careers. The book offers insight into many stars perceptions who witnessed the
industry change many times from technological innovations.
Bernard, H. Russell. Research Methods in Cultural Anthropology. New
York: Sage, 1988.
This is a very good book. Written simply and clearly, the treatment of research
methods was very helpful and accessible. The discussions of data collection,
organization, and analysis were especially helpful. He also offers an outline of basic
methods and problems in anthropological and historical research that was easy to use.
Balio, Tino. Grand Design: Hollywood as a Modem Business Enterprise.
1930-1939. New York: Scribner, 1993.
In this book Balio covers all aspects of the cinema; from the dollars-and-cents
breakdown, to production trends and marketing, to political influence and censorship.
Bowser, Eileen. The Transformation of Cinema. 1907-1915. New York,
This book begins in the early nickelodeon era. Bowser details at length the
attempt of the Motion Picture Patents Company, led by Edison and Biograph, to
monopolize the early industry; independent US producers and distributors fought this
restraint of trade. She also outlines the rise of extended narrative in the feature film, a
development destined to cause the rise of motion picture theaters. She also details the
development of film genres.
Card, James. Seductive Cinema: The Art of Silent Film. New York: Knof,
The power of silent film is shown in this book. One of the greatest collectors
and archivist of silent film, Card was the cofounder and director of the film department
at the George Eastman House of Photography. His historical remembrances are
personal rather than academic. The work covers the reputations of film makers such
as D. W. Griffith and Erich Von Strohiem. Card offers a good informative history of
Caswell, Lucy Shelton. Guide to Sources in American Journalism History.
The first 98 pages of Caswells guide contain seven essays, by senior
journalism professors, on bibliographic resources and research methods for historians
concerned with journalism in the US. The remainder of the guide comprises a state-
by-state listing of significant archival and manuscript sources currently available to
researchers in the US. Only basic directory information is provided for each
repository, such as address, telephone number, name of librarian or curator and
availability of photocopy services.
Cherchi Usai, Paola. Burning Passions: An Introduction to the Study of Silent
Cinema. London: British Film Institute, 1994.
This book is an excellent guide to silent film research. The author sets forth a
clear path through institutional archives which is helpful. The book is succinct, and
clear in helping to finding research materials and identifying films and facts.
Chion, Michel. Audio-Vision: Sound and Screen. Columbia: CUP, 1994.
Chion gives a detailed theoretical position on sound in motion pictures. He
categorizes all possible sounds in a motion picture, giving many examples from major
directors; Bergman, Fellini, Ford, Godard, Kurosawa, Scott, Tati, and many others.
He points out differences in perception of the audio and the visual.
Dayan, Daniel. Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History. Harvard,
Media events as defined here are those epic ceremonies broadcast live on
television. Royal weddings, state funerals, summit meetings, moon landings, Olympic
games, and other events of such magnitude they interrupt the normal flow of TV
broadcasting, focusing national attention on a singular event. Drawing on a vast body
of literature and research data, using the tools and methods of ceremonial
anthropology the authors reveal that media events such as John Kennedys funeral,
Sadats visit to Israel, the Nixon impeachment proceedings, Olympiads, and Eastern
Bloc revolutions are all TV ceremonies of contest, conquest, or coronation. Analyzing
the scripting, performing and shamanizing of these media events, the authors reveal
how the interactions of organizers, broadcasters, and audiences produce a unique
television genre and a form of ritual where being there has moved to the living
rooms of the world.
Edwards, Anne. The DeMilles. an American Family. New York: Abrams,
Edwards traces the long career of C. B. DeMille from silent films to The Ten
Commandments. There are many illustrations, excellent notes and bibliography.
Elsaesser, Thomas. Early Cinema. Indiana: BFI, 1990.
There are more than 30 pieces in this book some of them include excellent
footnotes and there is a 11 page bibliography. The authors have set out to study early
staging and shooting practices, and the beginnings of editing and narrative strategies.
Fetrow, Alan G. Sound Films. 1927-1939: a United States Filmography. New
York, McFarland, 1992.
Fetrow documents 5,418 US feature-length films produced during
Hollywoods golden years, noting such standard data as film title, studio, cast,
director, running time, and awards received, and briefly commenting on each entry.
Frick, Elizabeth. History: illustrated search strategy. New York: Pierian,
This book is an overview of basic library research methodologies, has specific
applications to historical research, along with its classified bibliography of fundament
historical reference tools. The author elaborates several practical fine points of topic
selection, card catalog use, and the research process that may be hurriedly passed over
or entirely omitted because of time constraints. The volume is liberally illustrated with
sample pages and entries from selected reference works. This edition has been
updated with examples from computerized catalogs and from on-line CD-ROM
databases that are now widely used. Several appendixes are notable. One outlines
three methods of approaching historical research with useful conceptual diagrams as
well as clear explanations.
Geduld, Harry M. The Birth of the Talkies From Edison to Jolson.
Bloomington: IUP, 1975.
This is book is a very complete account of how sound cinema was bom.
Although special attention is given to such pioneer Warner Brothers films as Don
Juan, 1926, and The Jazz Singer, 1927, and Lights of New York 1928, All early
sound films of the other Hollywood studios are also described and discussed.
Hilmes, Michele. Hollywood and Broadcasting. Illinois: UIP, 1990.
Hilmes book traces its way through moments in technological, legal,
regulatory, and institutional history, arguing that Hollywood maintained a lively and
innovative interest in radio and eventually television. She touches on the fact
stipulation that Warner Bros, embraced sound-film technology in the 1920s as a
strategy of expansion rather then to avoid bankruptcy. The path through corporate
Jones, Amita. Corporate Archives and History: Making the Past Work.
Malabar: Krierger, 1993.
This book deals with the who, what, when and where of corporate Archives. 1
is an excellent guide to one as myself who wants access to corporate historical
records. I experienced a difficult time gaining permission to use AT&Ts archives, and
can appreciate any help in this area.
Loulides, Paul. Bevond the Stars II plot Conventions in American Popular
Film. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1991.
The Star says little about the films, but rather point to the connection between
the film and society. The footnotes are especially helpful and complete.
Musser, Charles. The Emergence of Cinema. New York: Scribner, 1990.
Mussers volume comments on technology, social, and economic conditions.
It contains many commentaries on early films, often with photographs and other rare
illustration. Chapter endnotes are quite extensive; the bibliography, general index, and
film index are quite lengthy and quite helpful.
Musser, Charles. Before the Nickelodeon: Edwin S. Porter and The Edison
Manufacturing Company. New York: Scribner, 1991.
In this book Musser offers an extensively documented account of the Edison
Manufacturing Company and its best known filmmaker, Edwin S. Poter. Concerned
with the period between 1894 and 1908, Musser surveys the technological evolution
of the medium as well as the economic drives and legal wrangles that underlined this
OConnor, John. Image as Artifact: The Historical Analysis of Film and
Television. Malabar: Krieger, 1990.
In this book OConnor concerns himself with the methodological issues of the
Historian studying Film and Television. The book lays out a frame work of inquiry for
looking at moving image materials. Especially helpful for me was the chapters on the
moving image as evidence fro social and cultural history and The history of the moving
image as industry and art form.
Sanders, Terry. Cartwright, William, T. Lillian Gish: The Actors life For
Me. Santa Monica, American Film Foundation, 1988.
This book about the first lady of the silent screen is very good. It is a
valuable and entertain piece of film history. I truly enjoyed reading this book.
Especially does it illuminate the fife and work of D. W. Griffith. The spirit of the
silent film era is recaptured through the use of still photographs. Some of Gishs
anecdotes are quite illuminating, especially about the role of producers such as Loius
Sproull, Natalie, L. Handbook of Research Methods. New York: Scarecrow,
This was a useful book that provided a step-by-step approach to the design and
execution of research projects. There are numerous examples and clear explanations
of procedures in each aspect of the research process. Terms are defined within each
chapter as well as in a glossary, and references are provided for further study.
Uricchio, William. Refraining Culture: The case of the Vitagraph Quality
Films. Princeton: UPP, 1993.
In this book the author set out to explore the interface between film and
culture. Each brief analysis is about a silent film. They say little about the film itself
but point to the connection between the film and society.
Zaza, Tony. Mechanics of Sound Recording. New York: Prentice Hall, 1991.
Zazas book provides practical information on every aspect of sound recording
pertaining to film and video media. The text is written in a language that a beginner
Aitken, H. The Continuous Wave. Princeton NJ,: Princeton Univ. Press,
1985, pp. 162-249.
Altman, Rick. Sound Theory Sound Practice. New York: Routledge, 1992.
Ankerrich, Michael G. Broken Silence. Conversations with 23 Silent film
Stars. Jefferson: McFarland, 1993.
Cameron, Evan W. Sound and the Cinema. New York: Redgrave, 1980.
Danielian, N. R. AT&T: The Story of Industrial Conquest. New York:
Vanguard, 1939, pp. 110-165.
Eidsvik, Charles. Cineliteracv Film Among the Arts. New York: Random
Geduld, Harry M. The Birth of the Talkies From Edison to Jolson.
Bloomington: IUP, 1975.
Gelatt, R. The Fabulous Phonograph. New York: Collier, 1977, pp. 219-
Gomery, D. The Coming of Sound to the German Cinema, Film Studies
Annuals. ,pp. 136-143, 1976.
Gomery, D. The Wamer-Vitaphone Peril: The American Film Industry
Reacts to the Innovation of Sound, in The American Movie Industry: The Business
of Motion Pictures. Gorham Kindem, Ed. Carbondale, EL: Univ. of Southern Illinois
Press, 1982, pp. 119-135.
Hilliard, J. Movie Sound Reproduction, AUDIO, pp. 45-60, Mar. 1977.
Layda, Jay, Musser, Charles. Before Hollywood. New York: American
Federation of the Arts, 1986.
LoBrutto, Vincent. Sound on Film. Westport: Preager, 1994.
Loulides, Paul. Beyond the Stars II plot Conventions in American Popular
Film. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1991.
MacCann, Richard Dyer. The Stars Appear. Metuchen: The Scarecrow Press,
Mast, Gerald. A Short History of the Movies. 5th ed. New York: MacMillan,
Maxfield, J. Vitaphone-An Audible Motion Picture. Bell Lab. Rec. vol.
2, pp 200-204, 1926.
Morgan, K. F. Scoring, Synchronizing, and Re-Recording Sound Pictures,
Trans. Soc. of Motion Piet. Eng. vol 13, pp. 268-285,1929.
Morgan, J. Electronics in the West. Palo Alto, CA: National Press Books,
1967, pp. 69-76.
Pearson, Roberta E. Eloquent Gestures. Berkeley: UCP, 1992.
Reich, L. S. The Making of Industrial Research: Science and Business at GE
and Bell 1876-1926. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985, pp. 87-88
Rogoff, R. Edisons Dream: A Brief History of the Kinetophone, Cinema
Journal, vol. 15, pp. 56-68, 1976.
Rogers, Everett M. Diffusion of Innovations. 4th ed. New York: The Free
Schifrin, A. The Trouble with Kinetophone, American Cinemaphotoerapher.
pp. 50-54; 115-125, Sept. 1983.
Sponable, E. I. Development of sound films, Journal Soc. of Motion
Picture Engineers, vol. 47, pp. 275-303,407-422,1947.
Watkins, S. Closing year banner one for ERPI, Erpigram. vol. 2, Jan. 1,
Watkins, S. The First Sixty: A Sortobiography, pp. 149, 150-151.
unpublished ms. AT&T Archives Box 841003.
Watkins, S. Chronology, and Madam Will you Talk? Bell Lab. Rec. ,
vol. 24, pp. 289-95, 1946.
Walker, Alexander. The Shattered Silents. New York: William Morrow and
Company, Inc. 1979.
Weis, Elisabeth. & Belton, John. New york: Columbia University Press,
Wente, E. C. A Condenser Transmitter as a Uniformly Sensitive Insstrument
for the Absolute Measurement of Sound Intensity. Physic. Rev. vol 10, pp39-63,
Wente, E. C. General Principles of Sound Recording. : Trans. Soc.
Motion Picture Engineering. vol 12, pp. 657-665, 1928.
Warner, H. Future Developments in The Story of the Films. Joseph
Kennedy. Ed. Chicago. IL: Shaw., pp319-335, 1927.