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History's Happenings for August 6

Hiroshima Bombed -- Atomic Age Begins!
1945

Mushroom cloud over Nagasaki three days after Hiroshima

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Convention Begins Debate on Constitution
1787

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Holy Roman Empire Crumbles
1806

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Birth of Sir Alexander Fleming
1881

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First Execution by Electrocution
1890

"Old Sparky"

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Europe Declares War!
1914

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End of the Silent Film Age
1926

The end of the age of silent films was officially sighted on August 6, 1926, with the founding of Warner Brother's "talkie" picture company, Vitaphone Films, in New York City. Using the new radio technology to produce theatre amplifiers, and something akin to a phonograph to record movie sound, the silence of the screen began to be broken.

Although Vitaphone demonstrated the viability of sound accompaniment in 1926, some of the best silent flicks were yet to be made, including Sunrise (1927), one of the most acclaimed. The same year, Vitaphone released The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson -- the first major picture featuring synchronized sound.

Many hurdles remained for producers hankering for a breakthrough "talkie" ... noisy cameras and mounts, fixed microphones which limited motion, great silent actors with crummy stage voices. It would be 1930 before sound -- especially sound-on-celluloid -- became common.

But like the technological breakthroughs of today, within a few short years (King Kong was made in 1933) the new standard for cinema was a good quality soundtrack.




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