Birth of Home Theater:
theater is not a new concept. In 1927, with the first "talkie"
shorts already released, and "The Jazz Singer" about to take
the country by storm, Bell & Howell introduced a synchronized sound-film
system for home use. Developed by Bell & Howell's Charles McNabb, the
Filmophone system (unrelated to the similarly name English record label)
was announced in February 1927. A single film is mentioned in the company's
news releases, apparently a sort of melodramtic tableux accompanied by
Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." Another attempt at home talkies, the DeVry
Corporation's Cine-Tone system, was announced in January 1929, coupling
a synchronized turntable to a 16-mm projector. At $250 per unit, it was
not a success.
Charles R. Rogers would finally succeed, to a very limited extent, in allowing movie fans to enjoy sound films in the comfort of their own homes. His Home-Talkie unit, which retailed for only $49, consisted of a synchronized turntable, which was to be attached to the owner's 16-mm projector. It was equipped with an electric pickup, which was connected to the owner's radio set. Of special interest to record record collectors, is that Rogers produced at least sixteen original records to accompany his films, many of them featuring well-known recording stars.
The lack of new material probably did hinder Home-Talkie sales, and the onset of the Depression seems to have put an end to Roberts' venture. By August 1930 he was at work as a producer for Radio Pictures. From there Roberts moved to RKO-Pathé Pictures as vice-president in charge of production, and went on to figure prominently in the American film industry.
& Howell Filmophone Synchronizes Sound and Action in Movies for the Home."
Talking Machine World (February 15, 1927), p. 6.
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