Popular Mechanics - August 1952


So real does the picture seem that you're not in a Cinerama show more than a few minutes before you react physically. You are in a boat at Cypress Gardens, Fla., surrounded by tropical flowers and swamp jungle. A wisp of Spanish moss dangles in front of you, so you reach out to swat it aside. You lean sideways to right yourself as the boat tips when someone else steps into it. You duck so you won't smack your head as it carries you under a footbridge.

Across the lake at the boat jumps, racy outboards roar up from behind you, zoom up ramps, fly into the air right in front of you and plunge into the lake again. You duck to avoid the spray that showers toward you. The boats speed off to the left of the screen and the sound follows them.

Cinerama is the result of 15 years of research and the expenditure of millions of dollars. Its inventor, Fred Waller, is a mechanical and photographic wizard. He's the father of the first photographic printer and timer, which, incidentally, is still being used. He created a still camera to take a 360-degree picture and a remote-recording wind-direction-and-velocity indicator.

Most famous of Waller's inventions is an aerial-gunnery trainer used by the Navy in World War II. In it, the trainee sat beneath a domelike hood, or sky screen, on which five synchronized projectors threw movies of enemy planes that dove on the gunner every which way. The trainer was a step along the road to Cinerama but the theory behind it



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