Does This 1950’s 4th of July Homemade Video Bring Back Childhood Memories?

last modified Jul 04, 2018 by Kathy Pinna
posted Jul 04, 2016 by Kathy Pinna
Fun times! This home movie of a neighborhood 4th of July celebration in Rockaway Beach, MD could have been taken anywhere in the U.S. in the 1950s. Decorated bikes and trikes, lots of balloons and flags, parents goofing off (remember the Conga line?), kids playing baseball... Movie cameras were new technology in most homes and there was no better time to show off for the camera than the 4th of July.

If you're a Boomer, enjoy this video of your childhood. If you're not, you'll see your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents having fun. (Without sound - there was no sound with old movie cameras. The music has been added recently to this video.)
The History of Home Movies Home movies began in 1923, with the invention of the the 16mm "Cine Kodak" Camera. But the cameras were heavy – 7 pounds - expensive, and they had to be cranked by hand. Then, in 1932, an improvement was made and the “Cine Kodak Eight” was introduced. The Eight could produce twice the frames (8mm), but you had to turn and reload the film and it was still expensive. Only a lucky few could take home movies. Becoming a little lighter and less expensive, the 1950’s brought movie cameras into many homes. Home movies, which had to be shown on a home movie screen – or a sheet! – used a projector which often malfunctioned, after the film had been developed in the lab (at a local drug store or Kodak lab).

More progress came in 1965, when the Super 8mm format was introduced. The film came in a plastic cartridge, didn’t have to be reloaded or threaded – meaning that all 50 feet could be shot at once - and the camera didn’t have to be wound. Taking home movies became easier. But you still needed a projector and a screen – or sheet or blank wall. And all home movies were silent films – it wasn’t until 1973 that sound could be recorded along with the film.

Then came VHS cameras (in 1977) – decent picture quality, sound, color, and it could be played on your television. Home movies became easier but VHS cameras were still very expensive and bulky. It took preparation to take a movie – and some dollars!

Today, almost everyone has a smart phone which can take video. The quality is better and the process of taking home movies is easy, quick, and convenient. We’ve come a long way, baby!

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