You know how the Eiffel Tower won the Grand Prize at the 1889 World Fair? Well, it had to share the glory with a book.

Not any book: A book ENTIRELY WOVEN IN SILK.

You heard right. And nerds, get this: All pages of this book were produced on the Jacquard loom in 1889, using thousands (200k-500k) of punch cards. Only 50-60 copies were made. >

The loom had to make tiny movements on the scale of a TENTH of a millimetre producing tthe 400x400 resolution per inch². The woven sheets were then glued over super thin cardboard to allow the pages to be turned.

It took two years of trial and error to get the first book done.

It might be the first book produced by a program? Depends on what you mean by "program", but there's a good case to be made. (see next toot for sources)

Stepped away from fedi for a day, and, uh... Apparently I should share my nerd interests more often? Because the stuff above is basically what every day looks like in rixx land


I must tell the world.

@rixx It appears that the punch cards survive. I see no reason that I should not build a Jacquard Loom simply to "print" myself a copy.

Someone tell me why I'm wrong or I'm buying parts on the Internet later tonight.

@elb @rixx All that's needed now is a DVI to Jacquard loom punch card compiler.

@rixx Wow. A booklover's heart smiles upon it. <3

@rixx mfw you accidentally invent postscript a century too early

@cinebox heresy! as if post script was a dirty raster graphics format!


@guenther I don't know you, but I like you

(spent several years as a CTP/PostScript debugging person)

@scruss \o/ The quintessential positive internet experience! (not the postscript debugging part)

@guenther the postscript part was character forming: just you, a Sun Ultra, the platemaker and presses waiting, and 4 GB of PostScript to debug in emacs ...

@rixx what would be an equivalent masterpiece of ingenuity and complexity today. Craftmanship seems much less visible

@rixx About this time (maybe a few years later) people were doing the equivalent of ASCII art on Linotypes (except wildly complex). There's a tonne of it in the Inland Printer c.1895-1910. Nowhere near the craft level of this, but digital(ish) enough

That's amazing! So what's the book about?

@wmd @rixx it’s a fucking prayer book in French 🥲
They could have gone with an encyclopedia, or a treatise, but they chose a catholic prayer book. The image in OP has such gems as « my brethren, let women be submitted to their husbands as they are to the Lord, for the husband is the master of the wife, as Jesus Christ is the master of the church »

@rixx origin story for the phrase "weaving s story"?

@lufthans Definitely not! That phrase has been around for over 100 years more

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