This Is The Victorian Version Of The Animated GIF, And It’s Pretty Trippy

These early animations have been digitized by Richard Balzer, offering an intriguing insight into the nineteenth century mind.

In 1829, Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau invented the Phenakistoscope, an early animation device.

1. It used a spinning disc attached vertically to a handle.

2. The user would spin the disc and look through the moving slits at the disc’s reflection in a mirror.

3. The Phenakistoscope, otherwise known as the Phantascope, is commonly regarded by historians as the first “moving picture” machine.

4. And generally speaking, what Victorians wanted to see when they peered into these machines was mad, psychedelic stuff.

5. Like devils getting their heads chopped off.

6. Or children being swallowed by giant lampposts with gaping mouths.

7. Or hypnotic spinning discs.

8. Occasionally the animations depicted everyday things too, like horse riding.

10. And dancing.

Wikimedia Commons

11. But mostly they were just wonderfully trippy.


Courtesy of the Richard Balzer collection. H/t Colossal.

Check out more articles on!

Luke Lewis is BuzzFeed's Head of European Growth and is based in London.
  Your Reaction?


    Now Buzzing