Armat, Thomas, 1866-1948

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Thomas J. Armat (b. Oct. 25, 1866–d. Sept. 30, 1948), American mechanic and inventor, was a pioneer of cinema best known through the co-invention of the Edison Vitascope.

From the description of Armat, Thomas, 1866-1948 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10574359

Thomas J. Armat, American inventor, was born in 1866. Among his early inventions were an oarlock for boats and an automatic coupler for railroad cars. He studied at the Mechanics Institute in Richmond, Va., and later at the Bliss School of Electricity in Washington, D.C., where he was introduced to C. Francis Jenkins. With Jenkins, he attempted to develop the first motion picture projector employing an intermittent motion mechanism. In 1895 a working projector, using a loop-forming device and the first viable "beater" (intermittent motion) mechanism was produced. In Sept of that year, this invention, the Phantoscope, was exhibited at the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta, Ga. In 1896 the Edison Company agreed to manufacture the projector under the name Edison Vitascope. On April 23 of that year the Vitascope made its public debut at Koster and Bial's Music Hall in New York City, with Armat projectionist. The question as to which man, Armat or Jenkins, should he credited with the invention persisted. Years of patent litigation between Armat and the Edison Company, among others, ended when Armat joined the Edison and Biograph companies in forming the Motion Picture Patents Company. In 1947 Armat (with W.N. Selig, G.K. Spoor and A. E. Smith) was presented with a special Academy Award for his pioneering work in the motion picture industry. Thomas J. Armat died in 1948.

From the description of The Thomas Armat papers, 1895-1978 (bulk 1895-1946) (Georgetown University). WorldCat record id: 70883551

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Theisen, Earl. Earl Theisen collection, 1773-1935 (bulk 1895-1934). Margaret Herrick Library, Academy Library
referencedIn Raff and Gammon. Records, 1894-1897 (inclusive). Harvard Business School, Knowledge and Library Services/Baker Library
Thomas Armat Collection
creatorOf Armat, Thomas, 1866-1948. The Thomas Armat papers, 1895-1978 (bulk 1895-1946) Georgetown University, Joseph Mark Lauinger Memorial Library
creatorOf Thomas Armat Collection. 1894 - 1900. Motion Picture Films
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Armat Motion Picture Company corporateBody
correspondedWith Bliss, Louis Denton, 1871-1961 person
correspondedWith Dickson, John person
associatedWith Ducos du Hauron, Louis, 1837-1920. person
correspondedWith Edison, Thomas A. (Thomas Alva), 1847-1931 person
correspondedWith Eustis, John S. person
correspondedWith Hyndman, Donald E. person
associatedWith Jenkins, C. Francis (Charles Francis), 1867-1934. person
associatedWith Murphy, Edwin F. person
associatedWith Raff and Gammon. corporateBody
associatedWith Theisen, Earl. person
associatedWith Thomas A. Edison, Inc. corporateBody
correspondedWith Wright, Orville, 1871-1948 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Motion picture projectors--Patents
Motion picture projectors


Birth 1866-10-25

Death 1948-09-30




Ark ID: w68s5bvg

SNAC ID: 63488706