Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level
and then beat you with experience.” -- Mark Twain

"John Wick didn't kill all those people because they broke his toaster." -MickAK

"Everything is easy if somebody else is the one doing it." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

OK, Make that "Six Inventions That Changed the World"

A couple of years ago, I wrote about five inventions that changed the world. I had forgotten about that post until I saw it as a result on a search on my stats thingamabob.[1] I was astonished/abashed to realize one invention that I had left off the list:

6. The Paper Machine.


The concept of a machine that made paper in a continuous process was dreamed up and patented by a Frenchman named Louis-Nicholas Robert in 1799. France wasn't very stable then, so Robert's boss, Saint-Léger Didot, sent the design to his brother-in-law, an Englishman, named John Gamble. The Fourdrinier brothers (Henry and Sealy) in London owned a stationary firm, they improved the design enough to warrant a new British patent and built the first few paper machines. Virtually every paper machine running in the world today is a direct descendant of the Fourdrinier Machine.

Building the first few paper machines cost the Fourdriniers' over 60,000 pounds, an enormous sum at the time, when workers were paid about 12 to 25 pounds a year. Henry Fourdrinier went bankrupt and the design was widely pirated.

The Fourdrinier Machine, by mass-producing cheap wood-pulp-based paper, made possible the wide dissemination of information. The availability of cheap paper led to inventions of faster ways to print. The Gutenberg/Franklin-style manual printing press gave way to the rotary printing press which, when powered by a steam engine, could churn out millions of pages of print per press each day. News and information became available to anyone who could read and, coupled with the proliferation of public libraries[2], information no longer was the province of the elite.

All because of cheap paper.

[1] I'm closing in on 5,000 posts in the span of 32 months. Cut me some slack.
[2] Public libraries?!! zOMG!!!1!! Socialism!!

1 comment:

montag said...

I worked on one of those when I got out of college. When the operator had it humming it was 8 hrs of watching the gears go round. When something wasn't doing what it should, it was nonstop work to get things right.