“Moving pictures are exhibited in about ten thousand theaters and halls in the United States. With the rapid spread of this new amusement has also come a marked change in the public taste. Spectators were once quite content with a view of factory employees going to and from their work, the arrival and departure of railway trains, and similar scenes. Nowadays, a more or less coherent story must be unfolded, for which reason the makers of moving pictures have been compelled to write plays (or at least to conceive them) and to have them acted before the camera.”
—Scientific American, June 1909
More gems from Scientific American’s first 175 years can be found on our anniversary archive page.