Thomas Edison and Your Favorite Sports on Film

An Unlikely Candidate for making Sports Viewing Popular

We take sports on film for granted today, expecting them to be exciting and worthy of watching over and over again. We probably never associate the invention of sports films with the same man who gave us the light bulb, phonograph, electric vehicle batteries and lots of other incredible creations. 

However, we must remember he also gave us motion pictures, and that led to a flurry of subject matter being filmed…including sports! Edison Studios is credited for filming the first boxing match, baseball game, hockey game, people surfing in Hawaii, and college football game!

First Hockey Game Filmed in 1901 in Montreal, Canada by Edison Studios

The first sports films were the simple ones a patron could see through a peephole projector – an early version of pay-per-view, if you will. The key here is the subject had to be filmed and preserved on a medium first [celluloid film ala George Eastman]. Later, films were made longer and more extensive so that people could go to a movie theater to see them. This would later develop into cable TV and formalized pay-per-view in an increasingly electronic world. 

In Thomas Edison’s day and even a few years ago, you needed an entire film crew to capture America’s favorite games on film. Today, thanks to a series of innovations…all you need is a phone or a GoPro. Put them on a surfboard to watch someone shoot the pipe, mount them on a car fender to capture racing action, or bring your cell phone to the stadium and film your favorite baseball player. You can send a video to your friends instantly or even become a movie producer by simply creating a Youtube channel.

The first time surfing was captured on film called “Surf Board Riders” filmed in Hawaii, 1906 by Edison Studios.

Thomas Edison said, “The world owes nothing to any man, but every man owes something to the world.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

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