A projector or image projector is an optical device that projects an image (or moving images) onto a surface, commonly a projection screen. Most projectors create an image by shining a light through a small transparent lens, but some newer types of projectors can project the image directly, by using lasers. A virtual retinal display, or retinal projector, is a projector that projects an image directly on the retina instead of using an external projection screen.
Projectors can be roughly divided into three categories, based on the type of input. Some of the listed projectors were capable of projecting several types of input. For instance: video projectors were basically developed for the projection of prerecorded moving images, but are regularly used for still images in PowerPoint presentations and can easily be connected to a video camera for real-time input. The magic lantern is best known for the projection of still images, but was capable of projecting moving images from mechanical slides since its invention and was probably at its peak of popularity when used in phantasmagoria shows to project moving images of ghosts.