The Luminous History of Projectors

  • Projectors have transformed classrooms, churches and businesses, but what do we really know about where they came from and where they’re going? Expand your mind by delving deep into the history of the projector.


  • 206 BC
    • The “magic mirror” appears in China, capable of projecting a reflection from cast bronze.

  • 1420
    • Johannes de Fontana draws a picture which shows a nun holding a lantern that projects the image of a devilish figure.
  • 1645
    • Athanasius Kircher’s book Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae describes an early projection system that used a mirror and a lens to reflect sunlight onto a screen.
  • 1659
    • Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens sketches an image he intends to project “by means of convex glasses with the lamp.”

  • 1663
    • A London optician named Mr. Reeves sells magic lanterns to the public.
  • 1671
    • Athanasius Kircher writes about his inventions, which leads to him receiving official credit for the discovery.

  • 1700-1800
    • Magic lanterns are used primarily by magicians, giving them a dubious reputation.
  • 1800-1900
    • The public embraces projectors as lecturers, photographers and others begin using them.

  • 1894
    • Charles Francis Jenkins projects the first motion picture in Richmond, Indiana.

  • 1918
    • Records show that Chicago’s public school system had 8,000 projectors.

  • 1953
    • Eiki Industrial Co. founded in Osaka, Japan with the goal of providing technology for the classroom.
  • 1960s
    • Roger Appeldorn creates the overhead projector, which transformed classroom learning.

  • 1974
    • Eiki Industrial Co. begins to distribute its modular projectors in the United States, giving the public more reliable, affordable, and accessible options.
  • 1980s
    • EIKI helps pioneer LCD video projection technology.
  • 1990s
    • EIKI becomes one of only two brands to make and sell LCD video projectors.
  • 2000-2018
    • Eiki Industrial Co. continues to engineer and distribute cutting-edge projectors all over the world.

Projectors through the Ages

  • The Magic Lantern
    • Favored by lecturers, teachers and magicians in the 1800s, this early projector used glass slides to project images.
  • The Filmstrip Projector
    • Starting in the 1920s, teachers used filmstrips to show educational films and visual presentations.
  • The Overhead Projector
    • The overhead projector revolutionized classroom learning by projecting writing on clear film.
  • The Data Projector
    • Finally, teachers and presenters could project images from a video source such as a television or computer.
  • The 3D Projector
    • The next step in projection technology, these projectors requires special glasses in order for people to see two images projected simultaneously.



The Luminous History of Projectors Infographic