August 11 – Father of sound-on-film, Green Onions


French inventor Eugene Augustin Lauste (who emigrated to the US in 1886) applies for a British patent (#18057 is granted in 1907) for a new or improved ‘cinematographic and phonographic method or process for recording … motions of persons or objects and the sounds produced by them.’ ▷Father of sound-on-film▹

Lauste had contributed to the Edison development of the Kinetoscope in the early 1890s. ▷Detecting the History of Sound-on-Film▹

Many scientists and engineers had assured him that his ideas would never work …

He uses a photocinematophone … a microphone that vibrates a thin ribbon of light-reflecting metal over a tiny slit … to send sound signals to his camera. A surviving Lauste test strip — (with sprocket holes … he had everything right!) from 1910-12 is ‘one of the earliest surviving recordings of sound-on-film.’ ▷PBS:History detectives:Lauste film clip▹

Lauste makes thousands of sound films in his backyard in Brixton, England between 1910-14. Alas, Lauste can find no interest in the US … there are no vacuum tube amplifers yet … and two young European backers are killed in WW1. His last ‘sound-on-scene’ camera survives in the Smithsonian.


Stax Records releases a soul instrumental, called Green Onions, recorded by a gang of studio musicians, Booker T. & the M.G.s.

Originally released on Stax Volt Records subsidiary, it spends 16 weeks on the Hot 100 chart. It was heard in an important scene in 1973 George Lucas film American Graffiti. (The soundtrack is a great intro to the feel of 50-60s rock pre-Beatles.)
▷boingboingstory▹ ‘Green Onions’-Oslo Norway 4/7/67  Hang ‘Em High