Google It: Zoopraxiscope

If you’ve Googled anything today, you probably noticed the galloping horse theme. It’s a Google Doodle tribute to Eadweard Muybridge, inventor of the Zoopraxiscope, precursor to the motion picture projector. Muybridge was born 182 years ago today in England.

The former governor of California, Leland Stanford, hired Muybridge to answer the question of whether all four legs of a galloping horse leave the ground at once. (This was apparently a contentious issue back then.)

From 1877 to 1879, Muybridge took a series of a photographs of a horse at Stanford’s farm in Palo Alto. Using 12 to 24 cameras and a shutter he developed, he succeeded in capturing the motion of the horse. His lantern-like device the Zoopraxiscope projected the images to create the illusion of movement. In 1879 he debuted his Zoopraxiscope projections at Stanford’s stud farm and home, Mayfield Grange.

As an interesting aside, Muybridge’s horse photography work was briefly interrupted when he stood trial for the murder of his wife’s lover. He was acquitted of the charge–it probably helped that the governor was paying his legal fees.

Muybridge went on to complete other photographic studies in animal and human motion.

Thanks to Kristen Kovatch for the tip!

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