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1927 Chronokey Chronomedia index
Numbers after entries link to the list of references.


links and notes
  Cultural highlights | Predictions made this year  
January 1  British Broadcasting Corporation’s Charter, granted for 10 years, comes into effect.  
January 1  American football's Rose Bowl game is broadcast coast-to-coast in the US for the first time by the newly formed NBC radio.  
January 4  Boris Rtcheouloff applies for a British patent for a technique of recording television signals on 'a magnetic record of the Poulsen telegraphone type'. Sound would be recorded in sync on the reverse side. The device was probably never built.  
January 4  First meeting of the BBC Board of Governors is held.  
January 4  BBC makes wearing of evening dress compulsory for station announcers.  
January 7  First transatlantic telephone call is made between UK and US to inaugurate a commercial service; the cost is £40 a minute.  
January 7  Philo T Farnsworth, now based at 202 Green Street, San Francisco, files his first patent application for a television system based on an image dissector tube, although he has yet to prove the practicality of the system.  
January 15  First live commentary of the England v Wales rugby international match from Twickenham is also the first British sporting radio outside broadcast; the commentator is Teddy Wakelam. A plan of the field divided into numbered squares is published in the Radio Times so that reference can be made to the position of play; this gives rise to the phrase ‘back to square one’.  
January 21  Fox gives the first public showing of a sound version of What Price Glory, which had opened in a silent version the previous November. It uses Western Electric's sound-on-film system.  
January 21  Extracts from Gounod's Faust are broadcast from Chicago, the first opera to be broadcast on a US radio network. See also 1921 May 19
January 22  BBC broadcasts the first live commentary on a football match: the 1-1 First Division draw of Arsenal v Sheffield United.  
January  Wireless Pictures Ltd is formed in the UK.  
February 3  Warner Bros' third Vitaphone release is When a Man Loves, again starring John Barrymore, produced for $528,000 and going on to gross over $1m.  
February 3  President Calvin Coolidge signs the Act to create the Federal Radio Commission.  
February 17  First National, MGM, Paramount, Producers Distributing Corporation and Universal formally agree a one-year moratorium on progressing with sound until a decision can be made about a single technical standard. See also May
February 19  Radio station CFRB opens in Toronto, Canada.  
February 23  Federal Radio Commission embarks on the process of allocating frequencies, transmitter power and broadcasting hours to US radio stations. The first commisioners are Admiral W H G Bullard (Chairman), Colonel John F Dillon, Eugene O Sykes, Henry A Bellows and Orestes H Caldwell. Bullard and Dillon die soon after appointment and Sykes (1876-1945) becomes Chairman. Bellows and Caldwell remain as commissioners despite not being approved by the Senate. > 1934
March  A Select Committee (upgraded to a Royal Commission in June) is set up by the Australian federal government to investigate monopoly in the Australian film industry. Chaired by Walter Marks MHR, it has no noticeable outcome Films > 1928 April
Quotas and levies.
March  Gaumont-British Picture Corporation is formed by the merger of Gaumont and two other companies, with the financial backing of the Ostrer Brothers.  
•  The merged Gaumont-British Picture Corporation starts to re-develop the studio site at Lime Grove, Shepherds Bush, west London. It is capitalised at £6.25m.  
March  British National Studios at Elstree is fully acquired by John Maxwell, who changes the name to British International Pictures (BIP). During the year he gives a 12-picture three-year contract to 28-year-old director Alfred Hitchcock, who is paid £13,000 a year. [0019, 0030]  
March  Introduction of an auto-change record player by Victor Talking Machine Company. It can hold up to 10 discs.  
April 1  His Master's Voice (HMV) launches a  gramophone with an auto-change mechanism.  
April 2  First broadcast by BBC of Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race on the Thames from the launch Magician using a 100W transmitter.  
April 7  Gifford-Hoover TV linkFirst public transmission of television pictures over telephone lines, using a prototype two-way television system, Picture Telephone, is made by American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) in US over 200 miles from New Jersey to Washington DC—the first public television demonstration outside UK. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover and the AT&T president Walter Gifford speak to each other. ‘The elaborateness of the equipment precludes the possibility of television being available in homes or businesses generally,’ says Gifford. ‘What its practical use may be, I will leave to your imaginations.’ As well as being displayed on a small screen, the images are shown on an array of lamps three feet high and two feet wide. Picture source: AT&T
April  Fox Movietone NewsFox Movietone News is launched; Fox does not initially intend to use the Movietone sound-on-film technology—the first product of its recently established R&D department (see 1926 and May 25)—for feature film production.  
April  Baird Television Development Company formed as a limited liability public company with £125,000 issued capital and premises at 133 Long Acre, London WC2 [blue plaque].  
May 4  Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is incorporated. Its objects: to raise ‘cultural, educational and scientific standards’ of film in the US. First president is Douglas Fairbanks Snr. See also 1929 May 16
May 14 14:10  First live commentary on a cricket match is broadcast by the BBC: a ‘descriptive narrative’ of a match between Essex and New Zealand at Leyton given by Rev F H Gillingham, giving a 10-minute introduction and then speaking for five minutes every hour on the hour between 15:00 and 18:00.  
May 18  Warner Bros loses its exclusive Western Electric licence for sound-on-disc, giving Western Electric almost complete control of sound film technology licensing.  
May 19  Opening of Sid Grauman’s Chinese Theatre cinema on Hollywood Boulevard.  
May 21  Fox shows a Movietone newsreel of Charles Lindberg taking off on his transatlantic flight the day after the event itself.  
May 23  Current US television developments are demonstrated to almost 600 members at a joint meeting of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) and the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) at the Bell Telephone headquarters, 55 Bethune Street, New York.  
May 24  Baird demonstrates television transmission by telephone over 438 miles between London and Glasgow, exceeding the distance covered by AT&T on April 7.  
May 25  First public screening of Fox Movietone News is given at the Sam Harris Theater, New York. It includes footage recording Charles Lindberg's sensational solo flight across the Atlantic, which took place on May 20-21. It is part of a complete programme of Movietone shorts and the feature Seventh Heaven, which cost $1.3m to make.  
May  Second International Cinema Congress is postponed for a year. [0038]  
May  Western Electric's subsidiary Electrical Research Products (ERPI) begins to install dual cinema sound systems for both disc and film technology.  
May  The 'big five' Hollywood studios—First National, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount-Famous Players-Lasky, United Artists and Universal (the 'majors')—reach a 'non-action agreement' not to install any sound film equipment for one year while the technology develops. The principal contenders are backed by two of the 'minors': Warner Bros' Vitaphone and Fox's Movietone. See also February 17
June  In France a Cinema Commission of 44 members from government and most branches of the film industry is set up by the Ministère de l'Instruction Publique et des Beaux Arts. > 10 November
July 7  BBC broadcasts a record programme from Studio 3, Savoy Hill, presented by the ‘first disc-jockey’, Christopher Stone (brother-in-law of writer Compton Mackenzie, who founded The Gramophone magazine). > 1934
August 4  In a portable recording studio at Bristol, Tennessee, country singer Jimmie Rodgers makes his first recordings for Ralph Peer of Victor Records: The Soldier's Sweetheart and Sleep Baby Sleep.  
August 4  General Electric station 2XAG in Schenectady, NY begins test transmissions of a powerful 100 kW transmitter.  
August 13  BBC broadcasts its first promenade concert ('The Proms') from the Queen's Hall, London.  
August 21  BBC’s Daventry Experimental Station (5GB) is opened to provide an alternative service to the regional stations.  
August  NHK broadcasts live commentary of a Japanese baseball game.  
September 1  Advertising rate card for the NBC radio network in the US is introduced.  
September 14  Gene Austin records My Blue Heaven for Victor Records—probably the first major hit for a 'modern' style song record; it sells an estimated 5m copies. In 1928 Austin has an even bigger success with Ramona, a song used to promote a film of the same name which, however, is itself silent. This is probably the first time a 'title song' for a film becomes a major hit.  
September 14  R V L Hartley and H E Ives of Electrical Research Products—the AT&T subsidiary that effectively controls the emergent Westrex film sound system—propose the intermediate ('interposed') film system of television: images are recorded on film, which is rapidly processed and then scanned as a negative by a television scanner.  
September 15  Green's Playhouse, which opens at 126 Renfield Street, Glasgow, is Europe's largest cinemas, with 4,254 seats. Designed by John Fairweather and built by Cinema Building Ltd for George Green Ltd  
September 18  Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) is incorporated with 16 stations east of the Rockies. Included in the first night’s schedule is a new American opera The King’s Henchman.  
September 28  Council of the League of Nations adopts an Italian proposal to form an International Educational Cinematographic Institute (IECI), funded by the Italian government. [0038]  
September  Baird PhonovisionJohn Logie Baird demonstrates his Phonovision video disc. The system involves recording 30-line mechanically derived pictures and sound on conventional 78rpm gramophone records. Vibrations from the disc are converted into electrical impulses that operate a neon light illuminating the apertures in a scanning disc synchronised with the turntable.  
autumn  Philo T Farnsworth transmits crude but complete low-definition all-electronic television images at 202 Green Street, Los Angeles. Known as the image dissector, the system uses cathode ray tubes for both transmission and reception.  
•  Daylight film projection system installed at Victoria Station, London by John Grierson for the Empire Marketing Board to show informational films attracts large crowds.  
October 6  The Jazz Singer opens at the Warner Cinema on Broadway, New York [right] using Warner’s Vitaphone sound-on-disc system. The sound consists mainly of songs but includes the memorable line of dialogue spoken by Al Jolson: 'Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain't heard nothing yet, folks.' The engineer in charge of sound recording is George R Groves. The film cost $422,000 to make and goes on to gross $2.6m.  
October 27  Fox Movietone News, with sound, is shown at the Roxy Theater, New York. It becomes a regular weekly feature from December 31.  
June  Three subcommissions of France's Cinema Commission are set up by the Minister for Public Instruction and the Fine Arts Edouard Herriot to examine production, exhibition and distribution, and also educational uses of film. > 10 November
November 11  BBC begins experimental short-wave radio transmissions five days a week from 5SW at Chelmsford to the Empire.  
December  Cinematograph Films Act is passed in UK, establishing a quota system for exhibition of British films. The initial level is set at 7.5 per cent. Australia, Austria, France and Hungary introduce quota acts around this time.
UK media laws
December  Paramount’s flagship Parisian cinema, the 2,000-seat Paramount-Palace, opens, innovating the double-bill programme. Within a year it takes 15 per cent of all Parisian box office revenue.  
end  Western Electric's new subsidiary Electrical Research Products (ERPI) has equipped 157 cinemas with sound systems, including 55 with dual disc and film equipment. Royalties amount to $187,000. (Western Electric's royalties this year from gramophone operations are in exceess of $1m.) Western Electric charges $11,300 to install sound equipment in cinemas with fewer than 1,000 seats, $15,300 for cinemas with 1,000-1,750 seats and $19,800 for larger auditoria. [In 2003 terms these costs are $120,000, $160,000 and $210,000 respectively.] ERPI and Warner Bros underwrite exhibitors' investment for 25 per cent down and the rest over a year. They also charge 10 cents royalty per seat per week. RCA pricing ranges from $8,500 to $17,000 for its variable area sound-on-film system. 0025  
December 31  Last issue of US trade paper Motion Picture World is published.  
•  British Lion Film Corporation acquires the derelict Beaconsfield Film Studios to have a base from which to capitalise on the anticipated opportunities for British films resulting from the Cinematograph Films Act. Novelist and journalist Edgar Wallace, whose novels form the basis for new productions, becomes chairman of British Lion. [0019]  
•  Ideal Film Company based at Elstree Studios, Ealing, merges with Gaumont-British and moves to Teddington Studios.  
•  British producer Julius Hagen and leading actor Henry Edwards form Neo-Art production company and lease Twickenham Studios. [0019]  
•  British and Dominions Film Corporation is formed by Herbert Wilcox, one of the partners in the collapsed British National Studios, and actor Nelson Keys. The company leases a three-stage studio complex next to his former venture’s site at Elstree and names it Imperial Studios.  
•  Deutsche-Russische Film Allianz (German-Russian Film Alliance), Derussa, is formed by Filmwerke-Staaken and Sovkino to distribute Russian films in Europe and GErmany in particular.  
•  Central Film Library is founded in the UK as part of the Imperial Institute (later renamed the Commonwealth Institute) to supply educational and information films.  
•  Two-way radio telephony systems (see1926) brought into public use in UK and US.  
•  MPPDA (Hays Office) issues ‘Don’ts and Be Carefuls’—a list of 11 banned subjects and 26 to be handled with discretion, but lacking any mandatory force.  
•  Radio Act is passed in the USA.  
•  Radio broadcasting begins in India from two privately owned transmitters in Bombay (Mumbai) and Calcutta (Kolkata). > 1930
•  American W L Carlson and Associates patent use of AC bias in magnetic recording.  
•  Special radio transmitter is set up by the Post Office at Rugby to broadcast the Greenwich Time Signal for navigational and scientific purposes. > 1972
•  German Fritz Pfleumer and American J A O’Neill patent powdered recording coatings for paper and plastic tape.  
•  Leon ThereminRussian professor Leon Thérémin [right] invents a musical instrument initially called the etherphone but later known by its inventor's surname. Sounds are produced by placing the hands in varying proximity to two aerials connected to electronic circuitry and radio valves. Perhaps its most famous use is on the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations
•  US Department of Commerce establishes a Motion Picture Department, following lobbying by Will Hays, president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association, who used the phrase ‘Trade follows the film’ in his campaigning.  
•  Only five per cent of films shown in British Empire cinemas are made in the Empire. The UK generates $165m box office revenue and produces 44 films (4.8 per cent of films shown), against 723 US film imports (81 per cent). In France, 368 US features are released (63.3 per cent) and 74 French titles (12.7 per cent). In Germany, German releases are 46.3 per cent of the total and US films 36.8 per cent. In Australia and New Zealand, the US proportion of releases is 87 per cent, the UK five per cent and the others eight per cent.  
•  US sources of overseas film revenue: UK 30 per cent, Australia 15 per cent, France 8.5 per cent, Argentina/Uruguay 7.5 per cent, Brazil seven per cent, Germany five per cent.  
•  US Federal Trade Commission finds Famous Players Lasky Corporation guilty of anti-trust activity because of its block booking policy of requiring exhibitors to take lesser quality films unseen in order to acquire rights to screen major releases.
US anti-trust enforcement delays
•  Among newly registered film companies is British Lion.  
•  Hans Busch proves that axially symmetrical electric and magnetic fields can be used to deflect and control electron beams exactly as lenses affect light.  
•  Television Society is founded after a lecture by J L Baird.  Its meetings are held at the Physics Laboratory of University College, London.  
•  First completed Egyptian feature film (silent) is Koubla Film Sahara’a, directed by Ibrahim Lama for Condor Film, overtaking Laila, which went into production earlier.  
•  Professor Henri Chrétien in France first uses his hypergonar lens to create anamorphic images. An option on the use of Chrétien's lenses is later taken up by the Rank Organisation. > 1952
• 
Abel Gance’s film Napoléon includes a sequence in Polyvision, in which three strips of film are projected simultaneously to form a triptych, sometimes showing a single panorama, sometimes three complementary images.
Click on picture for more

See also 1935
•  First film made in Indonesia: Leotoeng Kasaroeng, directed by G Kruger.  
•  Le film luxembourgeois journal is launched by critic Evy Friedrich. It appears every other month during the first year, then intermittently until 1934, when it creases publication.  
•  Columbia Graphophone Company of the UK acquires German record firm the Carl Lindström Company, including its Parlophone label.  
•  Eclipse recordWoolworths introduces the Eclipse record series in the UK. The eight-inch discs are electrically recorded and, like their Little Marvel predecessors, sell for 6d (2½p) each. They play at the now standard 78rpm speed. To keep prices down the recordings are bought outright or the songs are cover versions, recorded by lesser known artists (including established performers working anonymously) for a flat fee.
[Image: Woolworths Virtual Museum]
> 1936
•  Victor Company of Japan (JVC) is founded.  
•  Recording of Oh, For the Wings of a Dove and Hear My Prayer is made by boy soprano Ernest Lough and the Choir of the Temple Church, London, with organ accompaniment by George Thalben-Ball for His Master’s Voice. It achieves sales of more than a million copies over the next 35 years.  
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Page updated 30 January 2012
© David Fisher