The 1930s and 1940s
The introduction of the sound motion picture dominated both the theatrical and the non-theatrical film fields in the 1930s, and the course of the history of the latter was largely influenced by the pioneer in the introduction of sound to film, the Western Electric Company. The company had acquired the necessary components for the "talkies" to enhance its Bell Telephone system, but Western Electric was not unaware of the potential of sound films and experimented with both sound-on- film and sound-on-disc motion pictures in the 1920s. Although sound- on-film was ultimately adopted by the film industry, the first commercially successful "talkie" was the 1927 Al Jolson vehicle The Jazz Singer, utilizing sound-on-disc provided by Western Electric.
To market its non-telephone-related products, in 1927 Western Electric created a new company, Electrical Research Products, Inc. (ERPI), which licensed the use of sound equipment and also provided acoustical engineering advice to those in the industry. In March 1929, ERPI founded a non-theatrical division to promote the use of sound in religious, educational, and other non-commercial film projects. The following year, the ERPI staff led by Frederick L. Devereux and Dr. V. C. Arnspiger began production on a series of 35mm sound-on-film shorts dealing with athletics, social sciences and vocational guidance. Unfortunately few if any schools were equipped with 35mm sound-on-film projection equipment; and until 1934, when 16mm sound-on-film projectors were intro-