Many instruments, such as optical games and other devices, marked the history of cinema before cinema. They contributed to create a new process of visual alphabetization, an essential premise for the birth of cinematographic show. Such instruments were designed and used throughout the centuries in various contexts, from popular shows to university physics lectures.

From the eighteenth century onwards, the Cabinet of Physics of Padua University also acquired several devices related to the projection of images and to the study of vision and optical illusions. Of course, professors did not distinguish in any way these apparatuses from the rest of the instruments they used in their optics courses. However, we think it is worth gathering here some of these instruments in order to enlighten their significance within the University of Padua. A choice that can contribute to document the history of pre-cinema in a region like the Veneto, which – it is worth reminding it - played an important role in this field thanks to its optical makers, its lanternists and its scientists.