Coming up with better ideas for communication and transportation is nothing new. British Pathe captured many of the 20th Century’s most innovative on film.
A news film archive popular until television made it superfluous, British Pathé, recently made available for viewing on video 85,000 of its newsreels collected from 1896 to 1976. A group of eighteen focusing on new inventions is compelling for their simultaneous naiveté and vision.
They provide a useful perspective into not only what has been, but what the future might look like in retrospect.
British Pathé is one of the oldest media companies in the world. Its roots lie in 1890s Paris where founder, Charles Pathé, pioneered the development of the moving image. The company was established in London in 1902, and by 1910 was producing their famous bi-weekly newsreel the Pathé Gazette. By the time Pathé finally stopped producing the cinema newsreel in 1970 it had accumulated 3500 hours of filmed history amounting to over 90,000 individual items.
This newsreel clip of early attempts to improve communication and transportation illustrate how far technology has come and how far it still has to go. It’s amazing that the some of the clips are only 50 years old. One can only imagine what people will think 50 or 100 years from now when they look back on what we believe are our most advanced ideas (e.g. the driver-less car). One thing is for sure, they probably will not be as visually dramatic as attempts at early flight.
Some of the newsreels are humorous, others ingenious. They remind us that before there is innovation there is failure. Often, a lot of it. To dream boldly; to imagine as real what is believed impossible, is deeply ingrained. We should be mindful to nurture it.
The 18 items begin with a 1922 newsreel of the first mobile telephone here. They are consecutive, so wait for a pause between each for the next to begin.
Image source: pathe.com