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SIAKEĽ, Daniel

* 25. 1. 1886, Slatnica in Turiecu, Slovakia
† 0.2.1946, Chicago, Ill., USA

Mechanic, designer, inventor (film technique)

As a fifteen year old boy, S. left his native Slovakia and left for the hardware factory → Ganz to be trained as an apprentice in 1901. His interest in cinema led him to the film factory "Projectograph", which was founded by Moric Ungerleider from Medzilaborc. He gained fame all over the country by developing and manufacturing projection apparatus for small cinemas. In this way S. gained an extensive knowledge on the projection equipment of Charles Pathé, G. Laumont, Oscar Meßter and Thomas Alva Edison.
In 1905 when he was nineteen years old he travelled via Hamburg to America. He got a job in the Selig Polyscope Corporation company in Chicago, which constructed the projection equipment. Here S. constructed the first apparatus for the development of world cinema films, which were later produced in France, Denmark and Germany. While working in the Rothacker-Film company he developed an improved film camera for outside filming, which represented the international standard for a quarter of a century. During World War I. S. constructed lightweight folding projection apparatus for schools, which could be transferred in the suitcase. For its application the first narrow film was made (35mm film length) and consequently, a 16 mm film length. First cameras for such films were manufactured in 1923 by G. Eastman Kodak. S. also constructed the projection apparatus for 16 mm film with a sound adapter. Tone was added with engraver's needle to the edge of the film. The first prototype was created even before the first attempts of an audio film to the film 35 mm in width. S. adapted his camera for recording tricks, which were seen in the movie The Lost World (Die verlorene Welt) in 1925. Large film companies repeatedly bought and further developed his prototypes.
In 1920 S. co-founded the joint-stock company Tatra-Film Corporation in Chicago, which broadcasted the first silent film in Slovakia called Janošik. The world premiere took place simultaneously in Czechoslovakia and the USA in 1921.

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