Sunday, July 7, 2013


By Julie Rahm

          Johannes de Fontana, in 1420, is credited with the first idea of projecting an image on a surface. His concept was portrayed in a sketch of a monk holding a lantern. In the side of the lantern, there was a small translucent window with an image of a devil holding a lance. The image, probably drawn on a thin sheet of bone, was projected onto a wall by the flame in the lantern. However, without a lens, the image on the wall would have been very blurry. But the projection idea provided inspiration to develop an improved projection model. Several people caught that inspiration. So, the actual inventor of the projector is difficult to identify because the historic records are unclear.
          What is clear is that in 1645, a highly educated Jesuit scholar, Athansius Kircher described and illustrated a device for reflecting sunlight from a mirror through a lens and onto a screen. In 1671, he tried to describe his invention, which he called a magic lantern, in a book he wrote called Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae (The Great Art of Light and Shadow). However, Kircher did not describe his device very well. Even so, since Kirchner recorded his ideas in a book he has often been credited with the invention. However, there is still disagreement.
           The Danes credit their countryman Christiaan Huygens. Huygens had been using a practical magic lantern since 1659. Huygens did business with Richard Reeves, a London optician, who started selling lanterns in 1663. Samuel Pepys, a writer, made an entry in his diary for August 19, 1666: “Comes by agreement Mr. Reeves, bringing a ‘lanthorn’, with pictures in glasse to make strange things to appear on a wall, very pretty.”
          Fast forward to the mid 1990s, with scientists and engineers working hard, a new technology was created that eventually led to the first multimedia projector. The newest technology of the day was digital processing. Applying digital principals to projectors allowed the development of digital light processing (DLP). DLP technology, created by Texas Instruments, takes the reflective power of more than 1.3 million microscopic mirrors, and hinges them on a digital micromirror device (DMD) chip. The first DLP projectors produced grainy images, but the technology has greatly improved since then. Now the brightest images ever can be produced in a multimedia machine.
          Three-dimensional projection technology is in the near future. Researchers are creating rooms that completely encompass audiences in the display. From floor to ceiling, a simple presentation can become a total sensory exhibition. And if you use multimedia projectors now, just think of the possibilities in the future!
          So, this week I’ve written about projectors with the thought that humans also project. Like projection machines, we project ourselves on others. However, we don’t project picture-producing light. We project our thoughts and emotions, minds and spirits. What do you see reflected back to you in your interactions with others? To understand how you project, visit me online at 

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