The Drive-In Theater History Page
A man by the name of Richard M. Hollingshead, jr., in his 30′s, was the sales manager for Whiz Auto Products Company, which his father owned. Richard was not challenged in his position so he strikes out on his own to create his own invention. He studied the American culture at the time. Richard finds that one of the last thing people would give up are the movies. In the 1930′s attending the movies was not a family activity. Children went to matinees during the day and adults dressed up and went to movies in the evening. This created many obstacles. After a long day at work on Friday dad did not want to dress up, mom had to find a baby sitter. You had to find a place to park the car, sometimes had to pay to park (remember in the 1930′s most theaters were on main streets with little parking).
Richard’s idea was to create an open air theater where you can watch movies from your car! You can bring the kids in their pajamas, dad does not have to dress up after that hard day at work and mom does not have to find a baby sitter. So Richard began to experiment in the driveway of his home at 212 Thomas Avenue, New Jersey. He mounted a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car. Then he used it to project onto a screen he had nailed to trees in his backyard. He placed a radio behind the screen for sound, then started his test of his idea. Richard tested sound with the windows up, down and half way. He tested many weather conditions, using his lawn sprinkler he simulated a rainstorm. Richard liked what he saw and heard.
One main problem did arise in his test. That was if cars were parked behind each other, the cars at the rear would not be able to see the whole picture, due to the car in front. This did not stop Richard, he lined up cars in his driveway spacing them at various distances and placing blocks under their front wheels he was able to find the correct spacing and the correct angles to build ramps for the cars front tires to park on. Thus was born the first Patent for the Drive-In Theater.
United States Patent 1,909,537
Richard then went to the US Patent Office on August 6, 1932. He explained his invention. On May 16, 1933 he get a patent # of 1,909,537 the first Drive-In Theater patent ever. Later in May of 1950 the patent was declared invalid by the Delaware District Court.
The First Drive-In Theater 1933
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