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The praxinoscope was an animation device, the successor to the zoetrope. It was invented in France in 1877 by Charles-Émile Reynaud. Like the zoetrope, it used a strip of pictures placed around the inner surface of a spinning cylinder. The praxinoscope improved on the zoetrope by replacing its narrow viewing slits with an inner circle of mirrors, placed so that the reflections of the pictures appeared more or less stationary in position as the wheel turned. Someone looking in the mirrors would therefore see a rapid succession of images producing the illusion of motion, with a brighter and less distorted picture than the zoetrope offered.

In 1889 Reynaud developed the Théâtre Optique, an improved version capable of projecting images on a screen from a longer roll of pictures. This allowed him to show hand-drawn animated cartoons to larger audiences, but it was soon eclipsed in popularity by the photographic film projector of the Lumière brothers.

A 20th century adaptation of the praxinoscope were Red Raven Magic Mirror and records. The mirror surfaced carousel sits on a spindle in the center of a record player. When the special 78 rpm picture records are played the images printed around the paper label animate. (See Unusual types of gramophone records)

The word praxinoscope translates roughly as "action viewer", from the Greek roots πραξι- (confer πρᾶξις "action") and scop- (confer σκοπός "watcher").

Lanature1882 praxinoscope projection reynaud.png

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