William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson

Date of birth
Date deceased


William K.-L. Dickson was French-born Englishman who moved to the United States at an early age. For many years he was the assistant to the American inventor Thomas Alva Edison, and played an important role in the development of film. In 1895, Dickson had a conflict with Edison.

Dickson then moved for a short time to Latham, and worked there for the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, a film company founded in 1894 that made films in 68mm format. At first he was involved in the technical development of film, and then became a travelling cameraman for the company.

Starting in May of 1897, he filmed in both the United States as well as Great Britain. There he was put in charge of the technical side of subsidiary British Mutoscope and Biograph Company. He shot a great deal of footage, for example of the sixtieth anniversary of England’s Queen Victoria.

In September of 1898, Dickson was commissioned by the British Mutoscope and Biograph Company to film the inauguration of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. This film reportage was shown by the Dutch branch of the Mutoscope and Biograph Company, and played a central role in the development of film in the Netherlands. A year later, he travelled to South Africa to film the Boer Wars. This footage went on to become famous around the world. In 1903, Dickson left the British Mutoscope and Biograph Company, and established himself as an independent technical researcher in London.

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