Pathe Baby was the trade name for a 9.5 mm home movie system introduced in France for Christmas 1922. This qualifies 9.5mm as the first practical home movie format accessible to the average consumer, beating Kodak's 16mm gauge onto the market by several months. There was a camera and projector, both of which were cranked by hand. An extensive catalog of existing Pathe Freres films were issued in this new format for sale or rent (much as videotaped issues of theatrical movies are rented today for home viewing). . These first films were only 30 feet long -- about 90 seconds of cranking. An innovative freeze frame mechanism lengthened the showing time by pausing for title cards which, in reality, occupied only a few frames of film. Not only did this conserve film (thus reducing costs) it circumvented import duties which were based on the amount of film used. In 1924, film length was increased to 60 feet. In 1928, Super reel films that were 300 feet long were introduced. 9.5 mm persisted as the 'standard' format for home movies in Europe thru the 1950's.
Pathex was the trade name of Pathe Exchange, Inc., Pathe's US subsidiary. In America, film exchanges distributed movie releases to theaters. The 9.5 mm format was introduced in America for Christmas of 1925 (Model D projectors). Despite initial success, a combination of factors including Kodak's marketing strength, the introduction of the 8 mm format in the 1930s, and a "buy American" sentiment during the Great Depression doomed 9.5 mm in the North America market.
|Knute Rockne, the great football coach, appears in a Pathex ad from the '20s. Despite such homegrown ad pitches, 9.5mm eventually would succumb in large part to a perception of being a "foreign" product.|
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