Teaching Technology Through Time
Westminster Audio Visual Services maintains an intriguing display of audio visual equipment that spans more than a hundred years of educational technology.
Housed in the Freeman Wing of the McKelvey Campus Center, this collection - assembled over the years by Audio Visual staff - exhibits (with few exceptions,) in display cases like the one pictured here unique teaching technology used in various Westminster departments and classrooms as far back as 1900.
Viewing guides are available at the display, and special guided tours may be arranged in advance with department staff.
These pieces may also be loaned out for demonstration and special display through arrangements with the Audio Visual Services office. (Some restrictions apply.)
For information on donating items to our museum, please see our policies page.
e-mail our office for more information on this special collection.
Singer School Master (1950)
(Displayed as number 32 at the museum site.) This is a film strip projector from the 1950s. A filmstrip is a spooled roll of 35 mm positive film with approximately thirty to fifty images arranged in sequential order. Like 16 mm film, a filmstrip was inserted vertically down in front of the projector aperture, rather than horizontally as in a slide projector. Therefore, the frame size is smaller than normal 35mm film. Two image frames of a filmstrip take up the same amount of space as a single 35mm frame, including its guard band, so that a 25 exposure 35mm film can contain fifty filmstrip images. Early celluloid filmstrips had a habit of melting or combusting from the intense and sustained heat of the projection lamp. These were called Pictural Filmstrips the First Filmstrips that were produced in a Complete set.
Typically, a filmstrip's running time was between ten and twenty minutes. Depending on how they were narrated or produced, filmstrips (which often came with an Instructor's Guide) were flexible enough to be used in both self-paced learning formats or a full classroom. In addition to a standard classroom wall or screen projector, personal film display units were available with a screen size of approximately eight inches diagonal for up-close viewing by one or two people.
The instructor would turn on a filmstrip projector that would show the first frame (image) of the filmstrip. The instructor then turned on a 33 RPM record or cassette tape containing the audio material for the filmstrip which included narration. At the appropriate point, a tone would sound, signaling the instructor (or a student volunteer/assistant) to turn a knob, advancing to the next frame. Later, technical improvements allowed the projector to advance the film automatically.
During the 1970s, advanced projectors became available, and these projectors would automatically advance the film by means of a 50 Hz subaudible tone recorded on the cassette that would be detected by the projector, and automatically advance the frame. Most cassettes accompanying filmstrips in the 1970s and 1980s would have the same audio material on both sides of the tape. One side would have audible tones for the older projectors, and the other side would have the subaudible tones for the newer automatic projectors. Some select filmstrip releases had both audible and subaudible tones combined, making the filmstrip and its companion cassette compatible with any filmstrip projector. If improperly set up, the narration and film would not be synchronized. In the late 1970s to the beginning of 1980, Audio Visual Companies started producing new Automatic Filmstrip Projectors with built-in cassette players to meet the teacher's Audio Visual needs better. Most Filmstrip Publishers stopped making their Sound Filmstrip Sets with Lp Records, so in 1979-1980 the Dukane Corporation in St.Charles, Illinois decided to meet the new Audio Visual needs of Teachers and School librarians everywhere by producing a brand New Cassette Automatic Filmstrip Projector called the Dukane Micromatic II. This was also produced in different models this Automatic Filmstrip Projector was easier to use by loading the Filmstrip in the Projector backward when the plastic upper Film Spring was flipped back. and loading the cassettes into the cassette compartment of the projector was also easier with a control panel that was for the Filmstrip and Accompanying Cassette and this Filmstrip Projector also had 50 Hz synchronization and can be also operated by Remote Control when set on the manuel mode, this Automatic Filmstrip Projector was very popular with Teachers (both Classroom and Music Teachers) and School Librarians, at the Same time Dukane also produced their new line of Silent Filmstrip Projectors (also in different models) which were also popular as well in schools.
The 1980s brought the advent of the video cassette recorder (VCR), and advancing technology meant increasingly affordable VCRs. When VCRs became within reach for most school districts' budgets, this marked beginning of a decline in filmstrip use. Video instruction combined the ease of the filmstrip with automatically synchronized audio and the dynamic images of television. By the early 1990s, the vast majority of filmstrips producers that were not equipped to compete with video either closed or sold their businesses.