You might assume that the animation revolution began in 1937 with the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but actually, the genre has actually existed almost as long as its live-action counterpart.
This timeline through the decades outlines animation's humble beginnings—from simple drawings on a blackboard and the first cartoon—to major technological breakthroughs including the introduction of color and completely digital animation production.
1930Betty Boop debuts as a woman/dog hybrid in the short "Dizzy Dishes."1930Warner Bros. Looney Tunes makes its debut with "Sinkin' in the Bathtub."1931Quirino Cristiani's "Peludopolis," which tells the story of a military coup against a corrupt president, boasts the first instance of sound within a feature-length animated film. There are no surviving copies of the movie in existence.1932The first full-color, three-strip Technicolor animated short, "Flowers and Trees," is released. The film wins Disney the first-ever Academy Award for Animated Short Film.1933"King Kong," which features several stop-motion animated characters, is released.1933Ub Iwerks invents the multiplane camera, which allows animators to create a three-dimensional effect within two-dimensional cartoons.1935The Russian film "The New Gulliver" becomes the first full-length feature to employ stop-motion animation for the bulk of its running time.1937"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," Walt Disney's first full-length animated feature and the first such production to emerge out of the United States, is released. It becomes a huge box office success and Disney was awarded an Honorary Academy Award for the achievement.1938Bugs Bunny makes his debut in "Porky's Hare Hunt," though the character wasn't named until 1941.1940Tom the cat launches his unending pursuit of Jerry the mouse in the Oscar-nominated short "Puss Gets the Boot."1940
Woody Woodpecker arrives on the scene with a small role in the Andy Panda cartoon "Knock, Knock."1941The first full-length animated musical, "Mr. Bug Goes to Town," is released.1946Disney's first live-action film, "Song of the South," is released and boasts several animated interludes. Because of its controversial depiction of the African-American character Uncle Remus, the film has never been released on home media in the United States.1949Prolific stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen makes his debut with the creation of the title character in "Mighty Joe Young."
The first computer-animated film, "Toy Story," is released to theaters. The achievement is honored with a Special Achievement Academy Award.1999"Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" marks the first film to use computer-generated imagery extensively and pervasively, in terms of its sets, special effects, and supporting characters.2001The Academy creates a Best Animated Feature category. "Shrek" is the first movie to win the Oscar.2002"The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers " features the first photorealistic motion captured character for a film with Andy Serkis portraying Gollum.2004"The Polar Express" becomes the first fully-animated film to use motion capture technology to render all of its characters.2005"Chicken Little" becomes the first computer-animated film to be released in 3D.2009James Cameron's groundbreaking "Avatar" is the first film to feature a fully computer-generated 3D photorealistic world.2012ParaNorman is the first 3D stop-motion animated film created with characters that are computer generated using 3D printing technology.