by Phil Méheux in BSC website
As stated above there is no article on the web or in any manual that deals with this issue. I have also spoken with the President of the American Society of Cinematographers and he has no archive on this subject. My article which follows deals mostly with the development of cinematography with major feature films of HOLLYWOOD.
In the early days of cinema, there was generally only one cameraman who worked without an assistant, hand cranking the camera and very often developing and editing the footage. Probably the best known of these American pioneers was Billy Bitzer who famously worked with D. W. Griffith on BIRTH OF A NATION (1915), etc. Bitzer began work as a motion picture cameraman in 1896. Another well known name was Roland Totheroh, Charlie Chaplin’s personal cameraman. Images from both these artists still survive to this day! At that time, most films were 200 feet in length and at varying speeds mostly between 12 f.p.s. to 18 f.p.s. or even outside these numbers. There was no standard speed then. READ MORE HERE