The Machine That Made Us
Good morning, we are going to look into the history of the Printing Press and the inventor of the Printing Press: Johann Gutenberg in the Machine that Made Us. The run time for this documentary is 58:56 and is hosted by Stephen Fry.
Stephen Fry examines the story of Johann Gutenberg, the genius who invented the printing press. He was the man who launched the first media revolution and launched the modern world. Fry helps makes a medieval printing press. However, Guttenberg’s story is mysterious and Fry hopes that by recreating a printing press he will get to grips with the man.
The documentary starts with Stephen Fry pulling out a game that would have been familiar to children in England. It is the John Bull Printing Outfit and it would have been Stephen’s first experience in how printing work. It taught him how to print with moveable type. He muses about the history of books and movable type. Who was the man who brought us the wonder of printing and books?
Johann Guttenberg was the genius behind printing. He made the possibility of books a reality. Books would be carried all over Europe and would fuel the Renaissance. One of the first books Guttenberg created with his printing press: was the Bible. How and why did Guttenberg invent his machine? Stephen Fry will do a historical experiment to get into the mind of Guttenberg. He will help recreate an original Guttenberg Press. Unfortunately, there were no illustrations of the press. So Stephen Fry will have to be a detective to find out what the original press looked like. He talks over the process with a craftsman Alan May who talks about how the printing press evolved.
All printing presses up to 1800 had a central part that pressed down on the type and a means of transporting the paper to the press. Earlier presses could print two pages at a time. However, based on studying the Guttenberg Bible, Guttenberg’s press could only print one page at a time. Stephen works with Alan May to start working on making a fully functional Guttenberg Printing Press. He gets his hands dirty carving a piece of the printing press. Fry wishes to reproduce a page from the Guttenberg Bible, so he will have to track down materials to help reproduce the page.
However, first Fry heads to the birthplace of Johan Guttenberg where he meets with Barbara Rupp a local historian. Together, they walk the city where Guttenberg was born and talk about the man himself. There is very little evidence of Guttenberg’s childhood. His mother owned land and his father was a metal worker. He grew up in the heart of the German wine industry as well. He studied at university. It seemed that he had the mind of an engineer and a merchant.
Alan has a theory that Guttenberg gained his inspiration for the printing press by observing the wind industry. It would take years of experimentation and money to develop the printing press. Guttenberg would have to move from his hometown to start his printing experimentations. In the meantime, the experimental printing press continues. The screw is being worked on, and Alan needs to make the counter thread for the screw.
Fry continues to follow Guttenberg’s trail down the Rhine River. He moved to Strasberg, a much bigger city than his hometown and a good place to start a business. A merchant class was rising up in this city and this class was much more interested in investing in their future on earth than they were in a heavenly here. Guttenberg would meet up with the people who would help finance his printing press idea. So would Guttenberg be able to find the funding for his big idea? Who would Guttenberg bring together to work on the printing press? Will Alan be able to complete a working Guttenberg press? Did an engraving of the printing press survive? Continue to watch this episode to find out more.
On top of the historical aspect of this documentary, there is also a strong element of experimental history. As a result of this scientific element, I would go ahead a show this episode to a science class and would ask the students what elements of the scientific method they see in this episode. This documentary is highly recommended for both a history and a science class.
Leave a Reply.
I'm a librarian with an active imagination who likes to create. Genealogist and Researcher.
My Teachers Pay Teachers Store! Worksheets available as a Word Document.
I am also on Lulu! If you're interested in genealogy I have several books available!
HistoryDocTube will not collect any personal information and will not sell any personal information to a third party. We will not request any personal information.
The purpose of this blog is to share information on what can be used in a classroom, private school, or home school setting as well as serve as a portfolio of my personal and professional work.
The reviews are my opinions and should be treated as such. I just want to provide a tool for teachers to select documentaries for their classrooms.