Until the late 1920′s, motion pictures were silent except for the musical accompaniment provided by theatre owners in the form of live orchestras.
Up to this point, movies had enjoyed a wide degree of popularity, but they still remained a secondary form of entertainment, largely due to their lack of sound. As evidence of this fact, many silent films were originally used as “chasers” in the more popular vaudeville shows. All of this changed in 1926 when Warner Brothers, in conjunction with Western Electric, introduced a new sound-on-disc system. In this system, sound effects and music were recorded on a wax record that would later be synchronized with the film projector. In order to exhibit this new technology, Warner Brothers released ”Don Juan”, the first motion picture to have a pre-recorded score and synchronized sound effects. Although “Don Juan” proved to be a box-office hit, many movie studios still refused to adapt to talking picture technology, believing that “talkies” would never replace silent pictures. However, the premiere of “The Jazz Singer” in October of 1927 changed these opinions, and in doing so, changed the history of motion pictures forever.