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National Media Museum unearths world’s first moving color images, circa 1902

Turner first color film

In 1902, Teddy Roosevelt was President of the United States, cars were still novel and new, and shooting movies in color remained a pipe dream. Or at least, that’s what film historians would have told you until now. Researchers from the United Kingdom’s National Media Museum have discovered the world’s first color moving images, which date all the way back to 1902.

The film process was invented and shot by a British photographer named Edward Turner, who can now be credited as the first inventor of color films. Turner patented his process in March 22, 1899, but historians hadn’t regarded it as successful until now. Kinemacolor, which was previously known as the first successful process for color motion pictures, didn’t become available for commercial use until1908.

As for the content, the images themselves are unremarkable. The footage includes a clip of goldfish swimming in a bowl, Turner’s three children sitting at a table, one of his daughters on a swing and soldiers marching in Hyde Park.

However, it’s a groundbreaking discovery for film historians. “We believe this will literally rewrite film history,” the National Media Museum’s head of collections, Paul Goodman, explained to BBC. “I don’t think it is an overstatement. These are the world’s first color moving images.” The research team that worked on restoring the film and converted it into a digital format was able to prove that the Lee and Turner color process did in fact work and resulted in brilliant images.

You can take a look at the footage in the video below.