Thank you, Thomas Edi­son

Los Angeles Times - - THE PETS ISSUE - — Adam Tschorn

Dur­ing an in­ter­view with In­ter­net Cat Video Fes­ti­val founder Scott Stulen, he ex­plained that, though the In­ter­net may have pop­u­lar­ized cat videos, the phe­nom­e­non pre­dates the Web — by a lot.

“Some of [Thomas] Edi­son’s ear­li­est films are of cats box­ing,” Stulen said. “He cre­ated this lit­tle loop that you can find on YouTube.”

That lit­tle loop (which is also in the Li­brary of Congress) was orig­i­nally recorded in July 1894 at Edi­son’s Black Maria Stu­dio in West Or­ange, N.J. A grainy black-and-white clip all of 22 sec­onds long, it fea­tures two cats wear­ing shoul­der har­nesses that keep them stand­ing on their back paws with box­ing gloves cov­er­ing their front paws. The cats (a ti­tle card refers to them as “Dr. Wel­ton’s”) spar half­heart­edly in­side a tiny box­ing ring while a well-dressed gen­tle­man (whom we pre­sume to be Dr. Wel­ton) stage man­ages from out­side the ring.

Which means that Thomas Alva Edi­son, a man known for in­vent­ing the phono­graph, the mo­tion pic­ture cam­era and the light­bulb, also hap­pened to in­vent the cat video.

Wiz­ard of Menlo Park, in­deed.

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