Yes, 16mm has always been a cheaper alternative film, even though it's provided a lot of usefulness for multiple generations.
The Beginnings of 16mm Film
In 1923, when it was first introduced, the nascent Hollywood industry shunned it as being inferior to 35mm. While that was obvious, the home market for the format burgeoned on up through the 1930s when 8mm was introduced as a slightly cheaper alternative. 16mm co-existed successfully with 8mm on the home market and finally became adopted by studios making educational films. During World War II, especially, many educational films were produced on 16mm that were shown in schools. Plus, by the 1930s, 16mm and 8mm films were available with soundtracks.
16mm Film Variations
The Role of the BBC in Making 16mm Professional
As far as older 16mm films that go back to the 1920s, you or a family member might have some stored away in a closet, attic or basement. They may contain precious footage of your grandparents or even great-grandparents and should be preserved forever. Here at Click-Scan-Share, we can do that for you, by transferring your 16mm films to a gold DVD that will last you for several generations. Our transfers to DVD are done meticulously so we can assure your old family films are preserved for years to come.