"The Jazz Singer" was the first film to break cinema's sound barrier, charting new ground by adding spoken dialogue to a movie production. That breakthrough was good enough to earn the movie the first honorary Academy Award for technical achievement.
Warner Bros. Studios used what was then a spanking-new technology called Vitaphone. The sound-on-disc system required a projectionist to sync film reels to a phonograph record to play recorded dialogue and tunes. It was an unsteady, but very important, first step [source: Hart].
"The Vitaphoned songs and some dialogue have been introduced most adroitly," A New York Times reporter said in a 1927 review of the film. "This in itself is an ambitious move, for in the expression of song the Vitaphone vitalizes the production enormously."