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The Secret Life of Machines

I don’t know how long they’ll be up but if you’ve never seen them check out The Secret Life of Machines on Google Video.

The Secret Life of Machines is a program that aired on the BBC in the late 80s, early 90s that explains how lots of machines work in super simple ways. It also used to run on the Discovery channel. It’s crazy how simple some machines really are. One example, they make a tape recorder by showing that if you put rust on a piece of tape and manually run it across a recording head it will record on to the rust.

Some of the cooler ones:

Did you know the Fax Machine was invented in 1843 over 160 years ago and the first working fax machine was made in 1860! It’s older than the telephone.

The refrigerator was actually invented to chill beer!

One I also found very interesting is the one about the Sewing Machine. First off I didn’t know how they worked but more interesting to me was some of the history of clothing.

According to the program except for very rich people, most families used to have to make their own clothing and that included up until relatively recently. They show some ads from like the 1950s for women and sewing machines. My mom used to make clothing for us. I used to always think it was just a hobby and I’m sure it was but I wouldn’t doubt that hobby was influenced by the previous generation that might have grown up making their own clothing.

The sewing machine also made it possible for there to be a wide spread fashion industry which is also what made it less of a fixture in people’s households.

There’s actually quite a few sites about the show. The webpage of the main guy, Tim Hunkin. Dang that guy is amazing! He even runs a homepage for the show.
Each episode is about 25 minutes. I hope they stay available. I wish they’d make some new ones too :-)

  • Charles

    Oh man, that series is the BEST, I remember seeing it when it was originally on PBS here in the US. I particularly recommend the shows about the TV and the Xerox machine. I downloaded all these shows off torrent and they’re all as incredible as I remember them from way back when (maybe even better than I remember).

  • Shinichiro

    Oh, it’s very easy to understand how simple the basis of fax is. I enjoyed the program.

    BTW, “機会” is chance in english. “機械” is machine.

  • anonemouse

    Makes you wonder what else we currently have to “make ourselves” that could turn into a commodity.