From the first “fully-synchronized” sound cartoon to the first fully computer generated animated feature, Disney has a long list of “firsts” in creative innovation under the company’s belt. Join us for a look back at 20 of these monumental moments in Disney history as the company celebrates its 90th anniversary.
First use of three-strip Technicolor in cartoons, with Flowers and Trees, which helped popularize the Technicolor process.
First full-length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
First use of “storyboards” to help plan out the action of a film (animated shorts and features, beginning with Steamboat Willie in 1928 and now used by the entire motion picture industry to plan film shooting, live action and special effects as well as animation).
First use of stereophonic sound in motion pictures, developed as “Fantasound” for Fantasia (1940).
First motion picture producer to embrace the new medium of television (at a time when all other producers saw TV as a threat, Walt saw it as an ally and used it to promote his films and his new theme park, Disneyland). Disney made two television specials in 1950 and 1951, and went on the air with a weekly show in 1954.
First use of the “mini-series” concept (as part of the anthology television show), with programs like Davy Crockett and The Swamp Fox.
First “theme park” with Disneyland, Walt created the first outdoor entertainment center for the entire family.
First “stereo” television/radio simulcast, using both FM and AM stations to broadcast different channels (The Peter Tchaikovsky Story).
First use of three-dimensional animation on a regular basis, with Audio-Animatronics (introduced in 1963 at Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room and significantly enhanced for Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and It’s a Small World at the 1964 New York World’s Fair).
First motion picture company to release its films (or parts of its films) specifically for the educational market.
With the re-recording of Fantasia in 1982, first film recorded in digital sound.
First original motion picture soundtrack recording ever released, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
First animated feature ever nominated for Best Picture Academy Award, Beauty and the Beast.
First full-length computer-generated animated feature, Toy Story
First network broadcast in high-definition television (ABC—Wonderful World of Disney aired the live action version of 101 Dalmatians.)
First film ever produced and shown using digital technology (Tarzan—digitally animated film shown in the U.S. with filmless projection systems).
First licensing of TV episodes (from ABC and Disney Channel series) for download on Apple’s iTunes Music Store.
First 3-D digital-cinema theatrical release, Chicken Little.
First full-length movie to be sold via digital download, on Apple’s iTunes Music Store, High School Musical.
First fully computer generated feature ever nominated for Best Picture, Up.