1. Sallie Gardner at a Gallop (1878) - The First Photographic Film Technique
Photographer Eadweard Muybridge used 24 cameras to study how horses gallop. His motion-capture technique paved the way for the development of film cameras (and horse GIFs).
2. Monkeyshines (1889 or 1890) - First Movie Made In The United States
Monkeyshines was an experimental film made in Thomas Edison’s lab and was one of the first successful tests of the Kinetoscope. Also, this is how people danced in 1889.
3. Roundhay Garden Scene (1888) - The Oldest Surviving Film In Existence
This is the first known recording on celluloid film. This animated GIF isn’t a sample—it’s the entire film, which runs 2.11 seconds.
4. Blacksmith Scene (1893) - Earliest Example Of Actors In A Film
Directed by William K.L. Dickson and created alongside Edison, this picture is the earliest known example of actors performing roles in a film. It was a simple story: three guys share a beer at lunch. The end.
5. Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1895) - First Color Film
This film was shot in black and white, then each frame was tinted by hand. The labor-intensive process limited the film’s running length to a mere 14 seconds.
6. Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906) - First Animated Film
Using basic stop-motion techniques on a chalkboard, this is widely regarded as the first true animated film. The comedy still holds up.
7. The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906) - First Full-Length Feature Film
This Australian film ran for more than an hour on a then-unprecedented 4,000 feet of film. Most of the hour consisted of people running around and shooting at things.
8. Nanook Of The North (1922) - First Feature-Length Documentary
This silent documentary film by Robert J. Flaherty captured the life of a native Inuit family. The director accidentally burned up hours of film negatives with a dropped cigarette and had to return to northern Quebec to shoot more footage.
9. The Jazz Singer (1927) - First Feature-Length Film With Sound
This feature-length motion picture synchronized dialogue sequences that were recorded separately. The film has since ignited criticisms for its depictions of race.
10. Steamboat Willie (1928) - First Animated Film With Sound
This was also the world’s introduction to Mickey Mouse.
11. Flowers and Trees (1932) - First Film In Technicolor
Flowers and Trees was the first animated film shot using a three-color movie camera. After this, animators were able to use color in ways that live action directors had only dreamed about.
12. Westworld (1973) - First Use Of Computer Animation
The point of view of Yul Brynner’s robot gunslinger was achieved with rasterized images processed with a computer. This was the start of 30 years of rapid advancement in computer graphics.
13. Looker (1981) - First CGI Human Character
This is considered the first commercial film to attempt to make a realistic, computer-generated character. It was a noble attempt.
14. Toy Story (1995) - First Feature-Length CGI Film
Prior to Toy Story, CGI had only made cameo appearances in filmmaking. This was the first time audiences were dropped into an entire CGI world, and it was almost as revolutionary as the idea that toys talk to each other when we’re not around.
15. Attack Of The Clones (2002) - First Major Movie Shot Entirely On Digital Film
Episode II was the first big-budget Hollywood movie to do away with celluloid film. This sequel also did away with Jar Jar Binks.
16. A Boy And His Atom (2013) - First Movie Made By Moving Atoms
For this short, IBM moved atoms with a scanning tunneling microscope to make its actors, props, and scenes. The lead character is a single nanometer in size (one 25 millionth the size of an inch), and Guinness World Records has certified it as the world’s smallest stop-motion film.