History of Technology 6: Perfecting Paper

How did we perfect paper? Easy. Lots of blush, and a little eyeliner. Or...maybe not. We better watch this video to find out. Care to join us?

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TechnologyHistory of Technology

Transcript

00:26

bit of pixie dust this early water powered process was crazy slow and

00:31

complicated but it was still efficient enough to make the price of paper in [graph showing drop of price in paper]

00:35

Europe drop by about 400 percent so the process was nothing to sniff at

00:40

especially because the whole thing smelled kind of bad today we all know

00:44

that paper comes from trees not scraps of cloth but a medieval European would [a laughing medieval european at a present day man]

00:49

have laughed us out of town if we told them that so when did the change occur

00:53

well in the 1840s a German named FG Keller figured out how to turn wood

00:59

chips into paper pulp which is kind of like a tree smoothie warning do not try [wood being placed into a woodchipper]

01:05

ordering this at the juice shop seriously really learn from our mistakes when

01:09

the 1890s they started using chemicals to break the wood down into pulp

01:13

this made the whole process even faster once we could reliably turn trees into [a papermill factory]

01:18

paper a whole new era of cheap printing came into being and a whole new era of

01:23

deforestation when Lorax would not call any of this progress still paper was the

01:29

big boss of pre electric communication there were basically two ways to

01:33

[two diverging paths on a country road] communicate in the pre-modern world talk to someone or write something down and

01:38

shockingly enough writing something down was only a possibility if there was

01:42

something on which to write how could medieval people send long-distance [a monk writing on his own hand]

01:45

messages without paper writing on their own hands may have been good for notes

01:50

to self but folks would have had to chop off a hand to send that note to someone

01:56

else and we can't think of any message that's quite that important okay so what [monk throwing a meat cleaver]

02:00

did all this cheap paper mean well for one thing it meant that it was possible

02:04

for writings to be copied and distributed much more easily than ever

02:08

before and as more people started reading the writing society got a

02:12

facelift some scholars have even claimed that paper [teacher pointing at the chalkboard]

02:15

encouraged a new spirit of religious reform more and more people in Europe

02:20

were soon able to read the Bible for themselves

02:22

[A man giving a speech] and they started saying hey you Catholic priests they're kind of fudging on some

02:27

things next thing Europe knew it had the

02:30

Protestant revolution on its hand and some may think that there's nothing more

02:34

boring than watching paper you know be paper but back in the day paper [piece of paper being lit on fire]

02:38

ignited human thought in ways that forever changed who we are has it been

02:43

worth the sacrifice of so many trees maybe maybe not but at least the trees

02:49

have paper cuts as revenge [a tree laughing]