Cameras Man, They Just Don’t Make Tech Demos Like They Used To By John Herrman on September 30, 2009

In 1878 Charles Bennett, a gentleman, discovered a new gelatine dry plate emulsion, which allowed for photos to be exposed almost instantaneously. So how did he show off his amazing new technology? By blowing up a mule, naturally.

The experiment ran thusly: A mule was strapped with dynamite, which was connected to a detonator. The very same switch that controlled the detonator was connected to the camera, so as to trigger an exposure during, or slightly after, the poor animal’s head was a-sploded. And verily! An 1881 issue of Scientific American recounts the horrifying event with bizarre earnestness, excerpted in the gallery:

“It became necessary, one day, at Willet’s Point, to destroy a worthless mule.”

“The mule was placed in proper position before a photo camera and duly focused upon the animal’s forehead, a cotton bag was tied containing six ounces of dynamite.”

“On pressing the key so as to send the electricity through the wires, the fuse and the dynamite were simultaneously fired; the camera slide and the head of the animal fell nearly together.” (WARNING: NEXT IMAGE CONTAINS MULE SPLATTER)

“The photo sensitive plate was impressed with a picture of the headless creature, still standing, before its body had time to fall.”

GET’CHER INSTANT-ACULAR CAMERA FILME, RIGHT HERE!

[Stereoviews via Things Magazine via Metafilter]

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