Decades of Progress and Prosperity
Non-theatrical film production and distribution prospered and grew in the 1950s and 1960s; the industry was totally oblivious to what the introduction of the first practical videotape recorder by Ampex in 1956 was to mean to the medium within a few short years. For the 1950s at least, videotape had relevance only to the television industry, and the television industry was pertinent to the non-theatrical film industry only as a further outlet for its productions.
Between 1949 and 1951 the number of non-theatrical film libraries increased from 897 to 2,002, with the largest number (1,351) handling educational films and the smallest (633) distributing religious-oriented productions. The third largest group of libraries (134) was located in Chicago and its environs; New York came second with 196 libraries; and California led the field with 217. By 1953, the number of libraries had increased to 2,660, again with the largest groups located in California and New York. Of these libraries, 503 were operated by schools or by public school systems.
The 1950s were dominated by two successful efforts to create festival showplaces for non-theatrical films. The idea for a non-theatrical film festival was not new. From October 11 to November 29, 1947, the Chicago Film Council held the First Films of the World Festival, described as "a giant preview of 16mm films." The Cleveland Film Council was organized in the fall of 1947 by a group of citizens interested in 16mm