1603 – The Magic Lantern is an image projector using pictures on sheets of glass. Since some sheets contain moving parts, it is considered the first example of projected animation.
1824 – The thaumatrope housed a rotating mechanism with a different picture on each side. When rotated, you saw a combined picture (known as persistence of vision).
1831 – The phenakitoscope featured spinning disks reflected in mirrors that made it seem like the pictures were moving.
1834 – The zoetrope was a hollow drum that housed images on long interchangeable strips
that spin and made the images appear to move.
1868 – The flip-book, also known as the kineograph, reached a wide audience and is credited with inspiring early animators more than the machines developed in this era.
1877 – The praxinoscope expanded on the zoetrope, using multiple wheels to rotate images. It is considered to have shown the first prototypes of the animated cartoon.
1900 – 1930 – The early 20th century marks the beginning of theatrical showings of cartoons, especially in the United States and France. Many animators form studios, with Bray Studios in New York proving the most successful of this era. Bray helped launch the careers of the cartoonists that created Mighty Mouse, Betty Boop, and Woody Woodpecker.
1928 – Steamboat Willie featuring Mickey Mouse—becomes the first cartoon with the sound printed on the film, and is the first notable success for Walt Disney Studios, founded in Los Angeles in 1923.
The golden age of American animation 1930-1950s – During what many consider to be the “Golden Age” of animation, theatrical cartoons became an integral part of popular culture. These years are defined by the rise of Walt Disney (Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Silly Symphonies), Warner Brothers, MGM, and Fleischer (Betty Boop, Popeye).