THIS VOLUME records first explorations of the path of light, ever widening from primitive dawn to the rainbow flood which now illuminates the world screen of the motion picture.
Here is a distillation from the adventures of a decade among the archives of Europe and America, many of them remote and never before examined in the perspective of today. This tracing of the long and often obscure way is not likely to be undertaken again for a century or two. It has been done con amore, but with a crisp objectivity, sharp precision. The work is a unique product of capacity, zeal and opportunity.
Primarily, this is the pre-history of the motion picture. Through it passes a pageant of philosophers, savants, priests, necromancers, tinkers, charlatans, scientists and entrepreneurs. Within its confines of the field of optics it is a cool study of human progress down the centuries.
In the lore of our Wild West is a tale of a woe bestricken, penniless prospector who stood hungrily watching a faro game. The sun flashed out as a cloud passed and through a knothole a spot of light, an image of the sun, fell on the layout. The hurrying, nonchalant dealer mistook it for a twenty dollar gold piece and paid off-- whereby a fortune was founded. Something like that has given us the motion picture. This is the telling.
September 8, 1947