16 mm film was introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1923 as an inexpensive
amateur alternative to the conventional 35 mm film format. During the
1920s the format was often referred to as sub-standard film by the
professional industry. Initially directed toward the amateur market,
Kodak hired Willard Beech Cook from his 28 mm Pathescope of America
company to create the new 16 mm Kodascope Library. In addition to
making home movies, one could buy or rent films from the library, one
of the key selling aspects of the format.
16 mm was also extensively used for television production in countries
where television economics made the use of 35 mm too expensive. Digital
video tape has made significant inroads in television production use,
even to the extent that in some countries, 16 mm (as well as 35 mm) is
considered obsolete as a TV production format by broadcasters.
Nevertheless, it it still in extensive use in its Super 16 ratio (see
below) for high-quality programming in the US and UK. Independently
produced documentaries and shorts (intended mainly for TV use) may
still be shot on film. Furthermore television documentary film-makers
will frequently use clockwork 16mm cameras to shoot scenes in extreme
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