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The Machine That Made Us

All Episodes 2008

  • Ended
  • BBC Four
  • 2008-04-14T01:00:00+02:00
  • 60 mins
  • 1 hour, 0 mins
  • Documentary
In this revealing documentary, Stephen Fry investigates the story of one of the most important machines ever invented - the Gutenberg Press. The printing press was the world's first mass-production machine. Its invention in the 1450s changed the world as dramatically as splitting the atom or sending men into space, sparking a cultural revolution that shaped the modern age. It is the machine that made us who we are today. Stephen's investigation combines historical detective work and a hands-on challenge. He travels to France and Germany on the trail of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press and early media entrepreneur. Along the way he discovers the lengths Gutenberg went to keep his project secret, explores the role of avaricious investors and unscrupulous competitors, and discovers why printing mattered so much in medieval Europe. But to really understand the man and his machine, Stephen gets his hands dirty - assembling a team of craftsmen and helping them build a working replica of Gutenberg's original press. He learns how to make paper the 15th-century way and works as an apprentice in a metal foundry in preparation for the experiment to put the replica press through its paces. Can Stephen's modern-day team match the achievement of Gutenberg's medieval craftsmen?

1 episode

1x01 The Machine That Made Us

  • Series Premiere

    2008-04-14T06:00:00+02:00 — 60 mins

The Machine That Made Us is a documentary in which Stephen Fry examines the story behind the first media entrepreneur, printing press inventor Johann Gutenberg, to find out why he did it and how, a story which involves both historical inquiry and hands-on craft and technology. Fry travels across Europe to find out how Gutenberg kept his development work secret, about the role of avaricious investors and unscrupulous competitors and why Gutenberg’s approach started a cultural revolution. He then sets about building a copy of Gutenberg’s press.

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