Hannibal Goodwin, an Episcopal priest, invented celluloid photographic film for use in his Biblical teachings and was awarded a patent today in 1898 that allowed for photos to be captured on a flexible roll of film. Now WE know em


Hannibal Williston Goodwin was born April 21, 1822 in Taughannock, New York.

He grew up to become an Episcopal priest at the House of Prayer Episcopal Church and Rectory in Newark, New Jersey.

Reverend Goodwin was motivated to search for a non-breakable, clear substance on which he could place images he utilized in his Biblical teachings.

He went on to make improvements in photographic pellicles (photographic coatings until then only supported by glass plates) primarily to provide transparent sensitive pellicles better adapted for photographic purposes, especially in connection with roller-cameras.

At the time, outdoor photographers and even tourists had to use large, heavy, bulky, and brittle glass plate cameras mounted on a large tripod.

Reverend Goodwin’s rectory/home where celluloid film was invented, now a National Registered Historic Place

Reverend Goodwin’s rectory/home where celluloid film was invented, now a National Registered Historic Place

Reverend Goodwin’s principle concept was to use nitrocellulose as the light sensitive gelatin applied to a flexible film base, thus creating a roll of film.

Many others had also been attempting to accomplish the same result, yet all attempts had failed.

On May 2, 1887, Hannibal Goodwin took his drawings and applied for a U.S. Patent.

US610861-0 (2)

Finally, Goodwin’s submission was granted as patent US610861-A on September 13, 1989.

In the meantime, George Eastman had started production of roll-film using a similar non-patented process.

Hannibal Goodwin retired from the church he had served for twenty years and started the Goodwin Film and Camera Company.

Unfortunately, before his new company could start film production, Goodwin was involved in a street accident near a construction site.

Hannibal Goodwin died from his injuries December 31, 1900.

The company Ansco purchased Goodwin’s company and patent from his heirs and went on to sue Eastman Kodak for infringement of the patent.

In 1914, Ansco was awarded $5,000,000 from the Eastman Kodak Company.

Goodwin’s invention and patent became crucial toward the advent of Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope and eventually motion pictures.

Now WE know em


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