Gelatin-based desserts have been around for centuries; first as regional mergers made of gelatin extracted from the cattle hooves, and then on a commercial scale from the early 20th century. In the 1960s, gelatin and the popular Jello-O brand were part of the American landscape. While the majority of us enjoy gelatin in terms of delicious summer desserts, it also plays an important role in sensing food coloring and flavoring – in the creation of black and white film.
Before the 1880s, the photographers used a wet plate process with colloidal silver nitrate. It was a careful process and the photographic plates must be created, exposed and developed in rapid succession. It was impossible to coat a plate for future use.
In the early 1870s, English photographer and physician Richard Leach Maddox became concerned about the health effects of continually managing the chemicals used in the wet platform. In particular, he worried about the fumes from the process and the proximity to them to the camera's users.
Maddox began a series of experiments aimed at creating dry tiles to remove smoke and make photography more fun. His early experiments produced the first useful dry plate technology (previous attempts by other inventors earlier in the century had given plates that were too sensitive to be useful). The difference in his design? He used a gelatin solution to paint the plates and suspend the silver nitrate on them. The process was further refined by Charles Harper Bennett and in the 1880s commercial dry plates made using the gelatin method were available.
Although the process has been refined and the carrier material is miniaturized and made flexible during the internal years, modern black and white films are a direct successor of Maddox gelatin coated plates.