1832 – Joseph Plateau (Belgium) and Simon von Stampfer (Vienna) introduce simultaneously a scientific demonstration device that creates an optical illusion of movement by mounting drawings on the face of a slotted, spinning disk. Plateau's version was variously known as the "Phenakistoscope", "Phenakistiscope", "Fenakisticope" or "Fantascope", while Stampfer's version became known as the Stroboscope. The device, originally developed to demonstrate "persistence of vision", was soon marketed as a novelty toy.
1834 – The Zoetrope is invented. The device was a hollow drum with a strip of pictures around its inner surface. When the drum was spun and the pictures viewed through slots on the side of the drum, the pictures appeared to move. The device was first marketed only in the second half of the 1860s when several patents were taken. It was known as "Zoetrope", "Zootrope", "Wheel of Life", etc.
1870s – French inventor Charles-Émile Reynaud improved on the Zoetrope idea by placing mirrors at the center of the drum. He called his invention the Praxinoscope. Reynaud developed other versions of the Praxinoscope too, including a Praxinoscope Theatre, where the device was enclosed in a viewing box, and the Projecting Praxinoscope. Eventually he created the "Théâtre Optique", a large machine based on the Praxinoscope, but able to project longer animated strips. In the United States, the McLoughlin Bros. from New York released in 1879 a simplified (and unauthorized) copy of Reynaud's invention under the name "Whirligig of Life".
1878 – Railroad tycoon Leland Stanford hires British photographer Eadweard Muybridge to settle the questions of whether a galloping horse ever had all four of its feet off the ground. Muybridge successfully photographed a horse in fast motion using a series of 12 cameras controlled by trip wires. Muybridge's photos showed the horse with all four feet off the ground. Muybridge went on a lecture tour showing his photographs on a moving-image device he called the zoopraxiscope. Muybridge's experiments inspired French scientist Étienne-Jules Marey to invent equipment for recording and analyzing animal and human movement. Marey called his invention the chronophotographic camera, which was able to take multiple images superimposed on top of one another.
1880 – Eadweard Muybridge holds a public demonstration of his Zoopraxiscope, a magic lantern provided with a rotating disc with artist's renderings of Muybridge's chronophotographic sequences. It was used as a demonstration device by Muybridge in his illustrated lecture (the original preserved in the Museum of Kingston upon Thames in England).
1892 – In France, Charles-Émile Reynaud began to have public screenings in Paris at the Théâtre Optique, with hundreds of drawings on a reel that he wound through his Zoetrope projector to construct moving images that continued for 15 minutes.
April 14, 1894 – The first commercial presentation of the Kinetoscope took place in the Holland Brothers' Kinetoscope Parlor at 1155 Broadway, New York City.
1894 – Kinetoscope viewing parlors begin to open in major cities. Each parlor contains several machines.
1895 – In France, brothers named Auguste and Louis Lumière design and build a lightweight, hand-held motion picture camera called the Cinématographe. The Lumière brothers discover that their machine can also be used to project images onto a large screen. The Lumière brothers created several short films at this time that are considered to be pivotal in the history of motion pictures.