A Brief History of Animation


When you think about animation, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? SpongeBob SquarePants? Dora the Explorer? Peppa Pig? Steven Universe? Tom and Jerry? Maybe Disney?

Animation is everywhere – in advertisements, movies, video games, TV shows, or social media. We can say that animation has only recently become part of our lives nowadays but the art form has existed for millennia. How old is animation? When was animation born?

Archeological artifacts prove that we’ve been attempting to depict things in motion as long as we’ve been able to draw. Notable examples include prehistoric cave drawings or the Shahr-e Sukhteh (3000 B.C), a bronze-age pottery bowl that depicted a goat jumping in motion. Even Leonardo Da Vinci’s artwork of the Vitruvian Man showed multiple angles, implying movement. Some inventions that made animations are the magic lantern (1603), the thaumatrope (1824), the phenakitoscope (1831), the zoetrope (1834), the flip-book (1868) or the movieola or pracinoscope (1877) (“History of Animation” 1).

In 1906, Humorous Phases of Funny Faces, considered the world’s very first animation film, arrived in the Silent Era (1900-1930). It was created by J. Stuart Blackton using stop-motion on a chalkboard and was followed by Fantasmagorie, in 1908, which was the first animated cartoon (3).

Gertie the Dinosaur was the first cartoon character with an attractive design. Felix the Cat turned into the first cartoon star film – everyone loved him. Finally, Steamboat Willie marked the first appearance of Mickey Mouse, cementing Walt Disney’s place as a “culture icon” (3).

1930-1950 marked the Golden Era of American animation during which period Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bugs Bunny were born. In 1960, The Flintstones became the very first animated TV show, followed by Yogi Bear, the Pink Panther, and Fritz the Cat (4).

The Modern Animation Era began in 1980 with the first computer animated short film: The Adventures of Andre and Wally B. In 1987 The Simpsons aired, which is the longest-running American animated program (5).

One of the main and most popular software for animation making is called ToonBoom Harmony. The Simpsons, Family Guy, The Amazing World of Gumball and others are made with this new animation program.

Finally, Toy Story premiered, marking the first computer-animated full length feature film. Since, computer animation has grown and improved to become more realistic (6).

Here’s an example of an animation made with ToonBoom Harmony, where we can see two children playing Tag on a playground.

Work Cited

“History of Animation.” History of Animation, www.history-of-animation.webflow.io.

Inés Rivera Cruz