Though Thomas Edison is often widely considered the father of "moving pictures," French inventors Louis Lumière and Auguste Lumière were technologically and artistically of equal or greater importance to the development of cinema. Born to Antoine Lumière, a noted portrait painter and vendor of photographic supplies, Louis and Auguste attended a trade school, but Louis suffered from chronic headaches and dropped out. He then began experimenting with his father's photographic equipment and in so doing, developed a better way to prepare photographic plates. Louis subsequently built a factory to manufacture his innovation and by the mid-1890s, he had become the primary maker of photographic products in Europe.
Their success encouraged Louis and Auguste to continue experimenting, and it was a demonstration of the Edison Kinetoscope in 1894 that inspired the brothers toward motion pictures. By the following year, Louis had created and patented the cinématographe, the device that changed the face of early cinema. A combination camera, projection device, and printer, the hand-cranked cinématographe differed from Edison's camera in that it was relatively compact and easy to transport while Edison's was cumbersome, noisy, and used 48 frames per second as opposed to Lumière's 16. With the cinématographe, the brothers were able to chronicle daily events outside the studio. Their first such film, La Sortie des Usines (1895), filmed workers leaving the Lumière factory at day's end. They made 19 more little films including the famed L'Arrivee d'un Train en Gare, and Les Repas de Bebe, as well as the early slapstick film L'Arroseur Arrosee (Watering the Gardener).
Such films and their invention were kept a secret and only shown privately twice, until December 1895, when the brothers gave their first public demonstration at the Grand Café on the Boulevard des Capucines. Audiences were thrilled by the Lumières' invention and word of it spread like wildfire. Soon, attending the cinema was all the rage and this led the brothers to head to England, Belgium, Germany, and Holland to demonstrate their wonderful cinématographe. Two years later, they had sold hundreds of their inventions on five continents and boasted a film catalog of over 750 films. Their final public film event was held during the 1900 Paris Exposition during which they projected a film on a gigantic 99 x 79-foot screen. Following the Paris Exposition, the Lumières focused solely on manufacturing and selling their equipment. Fortunately, by the time the brothers "retired" from filmmaking, there were plenty of artists to replace them. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi