Lauste, Eugène Augustin

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b. 1857 Montmartre, France d. 1935
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French inventor who devised the first practicable sound-on-film system.
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Lauste was a prolific inventor who as a 22-year-old had more than fifty patents to his name. He joined Edison's West Orange Laboratory as Assistant to W.K.L. Dickson in 1887; he was soon involved in the development of early motion pictures, beginning an association with the cinema that was to dominate the rest of his working life. He left Edison in 1892 to pursue an interest in petrol engines, but within two years he returned to cinematography, where, in association with Major Woodville Latham, he introduced small but significant improvements to film-projection systems. In 1900 an interest in sound recording, dating back to his early days with Edison, led Lauste to begin exploring the possibility of recording sound photographically on film alongside the picture. In 1904 he moved to England, where he continued his experiments, and by 1907 he had succeeded in photographing a sound trace and picture simultaneously, each image occupying half the width of the film.
Despite successful demonstrations of Lauste's system on both sides of the Atlantic, he enjoyed no commercial success. Handicapped by lack of capital, his efforts were finally brought to an end by the First World War. In 1906 Lauste had filed a patent for his sound-on-film system, which has been described by some authorities as the master patent for talking pictures. Although this claim is questionable, he was the first to produce a practicable scund-on-film system and establish the basic principles that were universally followed until the introduction of magnetic sound.
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Bibliography
11 August 1906, with Robert R.Haines and John S.Pletts, British Patent no. 18,057 (sound-on-film system).
Further Reading
The most complete accounts of Lauste's work and the history of sound films can be found in the Journal of the Society of Motion Picture (and Television) Engineers.
For an excellent account of Lauste's work, see the Report of the Historical Committee, 1931, Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engin eers 16 (January):105–9; and Merritt Crawford, 1941, Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 17 (October) 632–44.
For good general accounts of the evolution of sound in the cinema, see: E.I.Sponable, 1947, Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers 48:275–303 and 407–22; E.W.Kellog, 1955, Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers 64:291–302 and 356–74.
JW

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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