The first Academy Awards presentation was held on 16 May 1929, at a private dinner function at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel with an audience of about 270 people. The post-awards party was held at the Mayfair Hotel. The cost of guest tickets for that night's ceremony was $5 ($73 in 2018 dollars). Fifteen statuettes were awarded, honoring artists, directors and other participants in the film-making industry of the time, for their works during the 1927–28 period. The ceremony ran for 15 minutes.
Winners were announced to media three months earlier. That was changed for the second ceremony in 1930. Since then, for the rest of the first decade, the results were given to newspapers for publication at 11:00 pm on the night of the awards. This method was used until an occasion when the Los Angeles Times announced the winners before the ceremony began; as a result, the Academy has, since 1941, used a sealed envelope to reveal the name of the winners.
The first Best Actor awarded was Emil Jannings, for his performances in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. He had to return to Europe before the ceremony, so the Academy agreed to give him the prize earlier; this made him the first Academy Award winner in history. At that time, the winners were recognized for all of their work done in a certain category during the qualifying period; for example, Jannings received the award for two movies in which he starred during that period, and Janet Gaynor later won a single Oscar for performances in three films. With the fourth ceremony, however, the system changed, and professionals were honored for a specific performance in a single film. For the first six ceremonies, the eligibility period spanned two calendar years.
At the 29th ceremony, held on 27 March 1957, the Best Foreign Language Film category was introduced. Until then, foreign-language films had been honored with the Special Achievement Award.
The 74th Academy Awards, held in 2002, presented the first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Since 1973, all Academy Awards ceremonies have ended with the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Traditionally, the previous year's winner for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor present the awards for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, while the previous year's winner for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress present the awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.