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Revolutions in Communication: Media History from Gutenberg to the Digital Age, by Bill Kovarik, Bloomsbury, 2011. Author's slide shows for classroom use.

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  • Most historians have seen writing as evolving from economic necessity in the ancient Near East around the 4th millennium BCE . Its possible it was more widespread earlier on. What economic necessity? Why? Interesting that the Egyptian pictograph for “son” is the same as “duck” – Probably from image of ducks following parents closely. We use something like that today --- “kid”
  • Kingfisher bird amid a grove of papyrus, 1350 BCE Quote from Cassiodorus, late Roman empire (485 – 585 ACE) reminds us of how welcome media technologies were, how important it was to have a way to fix ideas. Also says papyrus is a big improvement over bark from trees. Papyrus is a flexible medium but not a durable one ( Note Im indebted to the Encyclopedia Romana at the University of Chicago for these insights and this public domain image ) This wall painting, which depicts a kingfisher hunting fish in a grove of papyrus, comes from the palace of Akhenaten at El-Amarna on the Nile and dates to about 1350 BC. Quote continues (It really is lovely) … For how could you quickly record words which the resistant hardness of bark made it almost impossible to set down? No wonder that the heat of the mind suffered pointless delays, and genius was forced to cool as its words were retarded. Hence, antiquity gave the name of liber to the books of the ancients; for even today we call the bark of green wood liber. It was, I admit, unfitting to entrust learned discourse to these unsmoothed tablets, and to imprint the achievements of elegant feeling on bits of sluggish wood. When hands were checked, few men were impelled to write; and no one to whom such a page was offered was induced to say much. But this was appropriate to early times, when it was right for a crude beginning to use such a device, to encourage the ingenuity of posterity. The tempting beauty of paper is amply adorned by compositions where there is no fear that the writing material may be withheld. For it opens a field for the elegant with its white surface; its help is always plentiful; and it is so pliant that it can be rolled together, although it is unfolded to a great length. Its joints are seamless, its parts united; it is the snowy pith of a green plant, a writing surface which takes black ink for its ornament; on it, with letters exalted, the flourishing corn-field of words yields the sweetest of harvests to the mind, as often as it meets the reader's wish. It keeps a faithful witness of human deeds; it speaks of the past, and is the enemy of oblivion. For, even if our memory retains the content, it alters the words; but there discourse is stored in safety, to be heard for ever with consistency."Cassiodorus, Variae (XI.383-6), in the first century AD, Pliny wrote about papyrus in his Natural History, it already had been the most common writing material in the ancient world for three millennia (indeed, the word "paper" itself derives from the Latin, papyrus).
  • College diplomas used to be printed on parchment, hence the idea of “Getting your sheepskin” One of the worst jobs in any print shop was to treat the animal skins -- even after the invention of linen paper, Vellum was a kind of parchment made from calf skins Parchment is a durable medium but not a flexible one
  • Around 200 ACE // Han Dynasty // Traditionally a monk Tso Lin observing wasps building nests The idea of paper making is said to have come back from China with Marco Polo and his brother in 1269 to Venice (They left in 1250 )
  • Just at the beginning of the Renaissance there was what climatologists call the Little Ice age – officially 1350 to about 1850 but probably starting 1200s / / Winters were much, much colder So what is this have to do with printing? Because people were wearing a lot of linen (flax) and hemp clothing, and taking it off in the spring, there was a lot of linen to make paper out of. Huge amounts of paper. Note hunters are coming home with just one little fox … not a good hunt. Dogs are very skinny. 1565 oil-on-wood painting by Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
  • History Channel said that Newspapers were one of 10 innovations that built Rome. (Roads, aqueducts, law, welfare… ) The Romans were known to contribute to public discourse through the use of official texts detailing military, legal and civil issues. Known as ActaDiurna, or “daily acts,” these early newspapers were written on metal or stone and then posted in heavily trafficked areas like the Roman Forum. Acta are believed to have first appeared around 131 B.C. and typically included details of Roman military victories, lists of games and gladiatorial bouts, birth and death notices and even human interest stories. There was also an ActaSenatus, which detailed the proceedings of the Roman senate. These were traditionally withheld from public view until 59 B.C., when Julius Caesar ordered their publication as part of the many populist reforms he instituted during his first consulship. For some humor: Monty Python – what have they ever given us?
  • Only 150 years before Book of Kells was produced in Ireland, the last books at the Library of Alexandria were burned. When the Saracens sacked the town, it is said that they burned the last remaining books because if they weren’t the words of the prophet they were evil and if they were, they were superfluous. / INCUNABULA are PRINTED books between 1453 and 1500 which may also have illumination, but there is a big difference. Incunabula is Latin for “cradle” but it can refer an early stages of something important. Usually we hear it used for books in the early stages of printing.
  • 500 words / page, 2.5 pages / day, Monk speed = 2 wpm / Typesetting and printing were the same thing for a Monk. Gutenberg’s press separated them. Digital media re-united them. For a scribe working in Medici’s library, it would take 5 months to complete one manuscript. We don’t know how long they were so this is not much of a measure of monk power.
  • Most of the techniques and elements in this shop would be used for the next 400 years. Only by the 1830s - 1850s would printing start to change radically.
  • This combination of an old style S and an I is called a “ligature” or actually (technically) a composed glyph. the nick on the “up” side of the piece of type. “Nicks up”
  • Actually, 3200 is 250 x 13, so they must have had an hour off every day, or the 250 impressions per hour figure is only roughly accurate. Printers would probably not work on Sundays, so 312 = 52 weeks x six days each week.
  • Shown here with Tympan and friskets up for new page. The press would roll back and forth, so one side was always being reloaded with paper. Also had automatic inking. (No more beating).,_Daniel
  • Compared to wooden hand presses at250 per hour with a three person crew
  • An image of a Ming dynasty woodcut describing five major steps in ancient Chinese papermaking process as outlined by Cai Lun in 105 AD
  • Making of a newspaper – Silent movie clicks thru from photo (From The Front Page 1974 Walter Matheau and Jack Lemon )
  • Note smaller, lighter plates – Cheaper, easier color registration. Replacing the old letterpress system had major economic benefits for publishers
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  • click thru photo for vocational type video from 1938
  • Compugraphics and similar photo-mechanical machines were early computers that would allow you to set several hundred lines of type, saving on a 10 inch floppy drive (10K storage), and then printing to a sheet of photographic paper which had to be developed, dried and then pasted up. Fonts were stored not in the computer but on a celluloid belt that would be changed every time you needed to change to different size or style. So all headlines would be written at one time, rather than with each story. This is the point at which newspapers become fabulously profitable with 20 – 40 percent annual ROI. Layoffs of Linotype operators cause major strikes in 1970s. Because papers are so profitable, they are no longer a family business. Bought up by media conglomerates concerned about earnings, not quality. No reinvestment in research and development. By 2012, newspaper industry is dead.
  • Apps not “Generative”
  • Apps not “Generative”
  • technology

    1. 1. Brief lectures in Media History Chapters 1 – 3 / Sidebar Print Media Technology (4 of 15)
    2. 2. This lecture is about …  Technical context of printing ◦ Papermaking ◦ Typesetting ◦ Development of presses Gutenberg  Incunabula  Monk Power  Life in a print shop 
    3. 3. Before printing: Oral culture  People are “pre-wired” for language and storytelling ◦ Reading & writing are learned Sense of connection  Alex Haley’s Roots –  ◦ Ex. of working oral culture  Fireside chats – ◦ Ex. Of radio as promoting oral culture
    4. 4. Before printing: Writing Learning to write was the “tuition” for human education – Wilbur Schramm 6th millennium BCE, earliest known Neolithic writings. Writing developed in a progression from picture – oriented (logographic) symbols to abstract phonetic images
    5. 5. Paper Before printing: Papyrus “For does a crop grow in any field to equal this [papyrus], on which the thoughts of the wise are preserved? For previously, the sayings of the wise and the ideas of our ancestors were in danger…” Cassiodorus
    6. 6. Before printing: Parchment  Split animal skins ◦ calf, sheep, goat  More durable than papyrus Paper ◦ But far more expensive  Skins were soaked, treated, split, stretched, smoothed, cut
    7. 7. Before printing: Paper (China) Fibers suspended in water, then “screened”  Developed in China before 200 ACE  Reached Europe around 1200 ACE  Just in time for the Little Ice Age Paper 
    8. 8. Before printing: Linen paper Romans discarded unwieldy scrolls in favor of the “codex,” or arrangement of pages in succession.
    9. 9. Before printing: ActaDiurna Handwritten news widely distributed across Roman empire “ActaDiurna” – Daily Acts 131 BCE to 400s ACE Helped keep up loyalty to Rome News of sports (esp gladiators), proclamations from Senate, battles, omens, and human interest stories
    10. 10. Before printing: The Roman Codex Romans discarded unwieldy scrolls in favor of the “codex,” or arrangement of pages in succession.
    11. 11. Books were sacred During the “dark ages” especially, books were considered the tiny flickering candle flame of civilization Book of Kells, 800 ACE Monasteries laboriously created works of art as acts of reverence Illuminated manuscripts (not incunabula )
    12. 12. Monk power 2 - 3 pages per day Writing One monk takes 2 years to copy 1,282 pages in the Bible * In 1447, just before printing, it takes 45 scribes 22 months to copy 200 manuscripts for the Cosimo de Medici’s library. ** 1 Monk Power = 2.5 pages/day, or 1/2 Bible / year * Frederick SomnerMerryweather, Bibliomania of the Middle Ages, (London: Merryweather, 1849). ** Brian Richardson, Printing, writers and readers in Renaissance Italy (Cambridge U. Press, 1999)
    13. 13. Mainz, Germany, 1453 – Johannes Gutenberg (1395 – 1468)
    14. 14. Gutenberg’s matrix Johannes Gutenberg’s key insight: •Re-useable, moveable type. •The “matrix” was a mold that formed a piece of type from hot lead, tin and antimony. • Printing sped up book production by 1000 -2000 x
    15. 15. What Gutenberg actually invented was not the “press” itself – That was widely used in agriculture and for woodcuts. As a metal smith, Gutenberg found the right combination of lead and antimony and tin for type. Moveable type made from wood was known, but even the hardest woods don’t hold up after hundreds of impressions.
    16. 16. Printing 1450s - 1790s Typical production of wooden flatbed press was 3200 impressions per 14-hr day* Printing A “token” (an hour’s work) was 250 pages (single sided) Four men working 100 days set type and printed 200 volumes of the Gutenberg Bible** So one person produced a book in two days, compared to a monk or scribe producing a book in two years. Monk Power = 312 * Hans-Jürgen Wolf, Geschichte derDruckpressen (Frankfurt: Interprint, 1974) ** Brian Richardson, Printing, writers and readers in Renaissance Italy (Cambridge U. Press, 1999)
    17. 17. Printing Bed & platen press  Among many improvements to hand powered presses Treadwell, c. 1820s, was 4x faster  Monk Power = 1,280 
    18. 18. Printing Koenig Steam Press Six-person crew – First used at the Times of London 1814 -- 2,200 pages per hour MONK POWER = 2,000 1828 – 8,000 pages / hour MONK POWER = 7,500
    19. 19. Hoe rotary press Printing (sheet fed)  1844 – 20,000 pg / hour (4 cylinder)  1852– 50,000 pg / hr (10 cylinder)  Monk power = 20,000
    20. 20. Bamboo, wood pulp paper Known since 100 AD in China Paper Linen, bamboo or other longfiber material suspended in water
    21. 21. Paper Fourdrinier paper process  First by Henry Fourdrinier, 1803, Frogmore, UK
    22. 22. Web (continuous paper) press 1865 (Bullock) -- 480,000 pages / hour  Uses stereotype plates  Monk power = 2.6 million Printing 
    23. 23. Printing Not many changes in Letterpress techniques from 1870s–1970s
    24. 24. Printing Stereotypes invented in 1725 in Scotland  Widely used to save typesetting expenses by mid-1800s  Also called “cliché” from Clichy lead works near Paris 
    25. 25. Printing   Hoe letterpress – Australia, 1950 Note heavy gearing for lead plates
    26. 26. Printing Man-Roland brand offset printing press c. 1970s Plates are thin aluminum not heavy lead stereotypes Far lighter, cheaper, cleaner, higher quality color Works well with photo-mechanical and digital systems for type setting
    27. 27. Typesetting by hand Typesetting 5 wpm = 2.5 x Monk Speed Manchester Guardian, c. 1890, approx 100 people working in typesetting; note upper & lower cases; compositors in front assemble galleys, paper galley proofs hanging from board to the right (It looks like a door but its not).
    28. 28. Typesetting by hand (WWI era) Typesetting Note Upper & Lower case Drawers of fonts under the cases Proofing press to check for errors
    29. 29. Typesetting
    30. 30. Typesetting Chicago Defender, c. 1940, approx. Four working with Linotype machines setting type (Fifth is compositor). It was hot, dirty, dangerous (poisoning from hot lead), but at 30 wpm, it was much faster and far cheaper than setting type by hand.
    31. 31. Photomechanical typesetting “Cold” type 60 – 80 wpm Typesetting $10,000 in 1970s (1/5 cost of Linotype) Paste-up artists replace hot type compositors COMPUGRAPHIC, c. 1975 30 – 40 x Monk Speed
    32. 32. Digital typesetting 60 – 80 wpm Typesetting $4,000 1984 – 1990 plus laser printer 1/10 cost of Linotype Digital pagination (no paste-up) APPLE MAC, c. 1985 End of typesetting as a separate part of the process
    33. 33. Monk power / monk speed  From 2.5 pages / day ◦ To millions per day ◦ Monk Power x hundreds of millions  From 2 words / minute writing ◦ To 30 wpm Linotype ◦ To 60- 100 wpm photomechanical, digital ◦ Monk Speed x 50
    34. 34. What New Media Changes
    35. 35. What New Media Changes
    36. 36. What New Media Changes
    37. 37. Conclusion Each drop in price / increase in power and speed extended the printing revolution  Stagnation in the 1870-1970 period led to complacency in publishing  Publishers missed digital curve in the road and lost markets  For more, read the RinC web site: Who killed the American newspaper? 
    38. 38. Notes  Robert Hoe's A Short History of the Printing Press and of Improvements in Printing Machinery from the Time of Gutenberg up to the Present Day (1902).  The Printing Trades by Frank Shaw (1916).  Harris B. Hatch, Alexander A. Stewart Electrotyping and stereotyping, Issue 15 