Stanley S. A. Watkins

Died aged c. 87

Stanley S A Watkins was born in 1888 in London, England. He received degrees in electrical engineering from the Central Technology College, later known as City and Guilds Engineering College of the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London. Watkins joined Western Electric's development laboratories which later became Bell Telephone Company. He worked on hearing aids, microphones and recording sound before experimenting with sound on film. Warner Bros. Was the only major film company to be interested in the short demonstration films with sound that Watkins showed them. Watkins was given a years leave of absence from the Bell Labs to become the chief engineer of Warners newly formed Vitaphone Corporation to work on disc technology. Watkins took a team of 10 young engineers from the labs, one being George Groves, to the Vitaphone Studios in New York to work with Sam Warner. The first public showing of 'Don Juan' received rave reviews but the film only had music and sound effects.
About a year later, in 1927, in 'The Jazz Singer,' Al Jolson sang songs and insisted on talking to his 'mother'. Talking pictures were born. Watkins spent seven years installing sound stages around Europe. He took early retirement in 1948 and returned to England with his wife, three daughters and son. He died in 1975.


Commemorated on 2 plaques

Su Lawson on Wikimedia Commons
Su Lawson on Wikimedia Commons
Centenary Of Cinema 1996 #168

Stanley S. A. Watkins (1888-1975) George R. Groves (1901-1976) The British electrical engineers who worked in America for Western Electric and Warner Bros. and played major roles in the development of 'Talking Pictures'.

Warners Cinema, Leicester Square, London, United Kingdom where they was

In recognition of Stanley S. A. Watkins BSc MIEE 1888-1974 British sound engineer. Stanley S. A. Watkins working for Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York played a major part in the development of the 1926 synchronized sound-on-disc system that became known as Vitaphone, thuis heralding the advent of talking pictures. In 1929 he returned to Great Britain in charge of installing Western Electric sound recoding equipment British studios among them Denham and Pinewood.

Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, United Kingdom where they worked