A History Of The Magic Lantern - Page 4
Who invented the Magic Lantern?
All over Europe, people such as Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) and the Danish mathematician Thomas Rasmussen Walgensten started to develop working models of Lantern Projectors. Huygens is famous for his wave theory of light, and did many experiments with lenses, so it does not surprise me that he formed an interest in lanterns. Huygens had a lantern at least as early as November 1659. His father kept pestering him to send him a lantern so he could "frighten his friends with it".
Walgensten's Laterna Magica, drawn by Dechales in 1665.
|Thomas Walgensten was the first person to use the term Laterna Magica.Thomas Walgensten, not only realized the technical and artistic possibilities of the Magic Lantern, but also its economic potential, traveling round Europe demonstrating and selling them.|
In 1663 the London optician John Reeves started to make lanterns for sale. A Frenchman, Balthasar de Monconys recorded how he visited Reeves on the 17th May 1663.
"After we had eate, we went to Long Acre to see Mr. Reeves who makes
telescopes. But he had none ready and deferred us to another time and
also to show us how a bull's-eye lantern works."
The diarist Samuel Pepys was an early customer. He bought a lantern from Reeves on the 19th August 1666, a fortnight before the Fire of London. In his diary he wrote "Comes by agreement Mr Reeves, bringing me a lanthorn, with pictures on glass, to make strange things appear on a wall, very pretty". A later entry says how he purchased the lantern.