Early examples of attempts to capture the phenomenon of motion into a still drawing can be found in paleolithic cave paintings, where animals are often depicted with multiple legs in superimposed positions, clearly attempting to convey the perception of motion.
An earthen goblet discovered at the site of the 5,200-year-old Shahr-e Sūkhté (Burnt City) in southeastern Iran, depicts what could possibly be the world’s oldest example of animation. The artifact bears five sequential images depicting a Persian Desert Ibex jumping up to eat the leaves of a tree.
Ancient Chinese records contain several mentions of devices that were said to “give an impression of movement” to human or animal figures, these accounts are unclear and may only refer to the actual movement of the figures through space.
In the 19th century, the phenakistoscope (1832), zoetrope (1834) and praxinoscope (1877) were introduced. A thaumatrope (1824) is a simple toy with a small disk with different pictures on each side; a bird in a cage, and is attached to two pieces of strings. The phenakistoscope was invented simultaneously by Belgian Joseph Plateau and Austrian Simon von Stampfer in 1831. The phenakistoscope consists of a disk with a series of images, drawn on radi evenly space around the center of the disk.
John Barnes Linnett patented the first flip book in 1868 as the kineograph. The common flip book were early animation devices that produced an illusion of movement from a series of sequential drawings, animation did not develop further until the advent of motion picture film and cinematography in the 1890s.
The cinématographe was a projector, printer, and camera in one machine that allowed moving pictures to be shown successfully on a screen which was invented by history’s earliest film makers, Auguste and Louis Lumière, in 1894. The first animated projection (screening) was created in France, by Charles-Émile Reynaud,who was a French science teacher. Reynaud created the Praxinoscope in 1877 and the Théâtre Optique in December 1888. On 28 October 1892, he projected the first animation in public, Pauvre Pierrot, at the Musée Grévin in Paris. This film is also notable as the first known instance of film perforations being used. His films were not photographed, they were drawn directly onto the transparent strip. In 1900, more than 500,000 people had attended these screenings.
A projecting praxinoscope, 1882, here shown superimposing an animated figure on a separately projected background scene
The first film that was recorded on standard picture film and included animated sequences was the 1900 Enchanted Drawing, which was followed by the first entirely animated film – the 1906 Humorous Phases of Funny Faces by J. Stuart Blackton, who, because of that, is considered the father of American animation.
The first animated film created by using what came to be known astraditional (hand-drawn) animation – the 1908 Fantasmagorie by Émile Cohl
Charlie in Turkey (1916), an animated film by Pat Sullivan for Keen Cartoon Corporation.
In Europe, the French artist, Émile Cohl, created the first animated film using what came to be known as traditional animationcreation methods – the 1908 Fantasmagorie. The film largely consisted of a stick figure moving about and encountering all manner of morphing objects, a wine bottle that transforms into a flower. There were also sections of live action in which the animator’s hands would enter the scene. The film was created by drawing each frame on paper and then shooting each frame onto negative film, which gave the picture a blackboard look.
The author of the first puppet-animated film (The Beautiful Lukanida (1912)) was the Russian-born (ethnically Polish) director Wladyslaw Starewicz, known as Ladislas Starevich.
More detailed hand-drawn animation, requiring a team of animators drawing each frame manually with detailed backgrounds and characters, were those directed by Winsor McCay, a successful newspaper cartoonist, including the 1911 Little Nemo, the 1914Gertie the Dinosaur, and the 1918 The Sinking of the Lusitania.
During the 1910s, the production of animated short films, typically referred to as “cartoons”, became an industry of its own and cartoon shorts were produced for showing in movie theaters. The most successful producer at the time was John Randolph Bray, who, along with animator Earl Hurd, patented the cel animation process which dominated the animation industry for the rest of the decade.
Italian-Argentine cartoonistQuirino Cristiani showing the cut and articulated figure of his satirical character El Peludo(based on President Yrigoyen) patented in 1916 for the realization of his movies, including the world’s first animated feature film El Apóstol.
El Apóstol (Spanish: “The Apostle”) was a 1917 Argentine animated film utilizing cutout animation, and the world’s first animated feature film. Unfortunately, a fire that destroyed producer Federico Valle’s film studio incinerated the only known copy of El Apóstol, and it is now considered a lost film.
In 1958, Hanna-Barbara released Huckleberry Hound, the first half hour television program to feature only in animation. Terrytoons released Tom Terrific that same year. Television significantly decreased public attention to the animated shorts being shown in theaters.
Computer animation has become popular since Toy Story (1995), the first feature-length animated film completely made using this technique.
In 2008, the animation market was worth US$68.4 billion. Animation as an art and industry continues to thrive as of the mid-2010s, because well-made animated projects can find audiences across borders and in all four quadrants. Animated feature-length films returned the highest gross margins (around 52%) of all film genres in the 2004–2013 timeframe.