150 years ago, there were no moving pictures, television, or animated computer graphics. In fact, most people had never seen any image that moved. A few artists of the time used looping animations, called zoetropes, phenakistoscopes, thaumatropes and other gadgets with very strange names, to bring their illustrations to life.
(Click on the above image to see it in motion)
Richard Balzer collects antique zoetropes, phenakistoscopes, magic lanterns and other optical gadgets. For the past five years, Balzer has been digitizing his collection and uploading it to his virtual museum, The Richard Balzer Collection. The site is a fascinatingly deep dive into the little-known world of optical tools, full of illustrations, diagrams, photographs and flash animations.
You can see some of these looping animations and read more about them at The Richard Balzer Collection at http://www.wired.com/design/2013/12/these-150-year-old-gifs-are-insane/.