The Secret Life of Machines

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I have fond memories of watching The Secret Life of Machines on The Discovery Channel in the early 90's -- back in the days when the channel was mostly about sharks and David Attenborough films. The Secret Life of Machines was written and presented by Tim Hunkin (with assistance from Rex Garrod) and broadcast in the UK in the late 80's and early 90's. The show was like an early version of MythBusters, minus the myths, and with more quirky animation. It was all about machines -- how they work, how to build them, who invented them, and even how they're used in art. The series is charming, educational, and a lot of fun.

The Secret Life of the Office - Word Processor RobotFor at least the past decade it has been hard to watch the show in the US -- it was available (for hundreds of dollars) on VHS and DVD, and I haven't been able to find it on the Discovery Channel since the 90's. So imagine my delight -- my glee even -- when I discovered that now the entire series is available online for free thanks to The Exploratorium in San Francisco. You can stream the episodes or download them in high-quality QuickTime format (they're labeled 'iPhone' but really those files are just QuickTime movies, playable on any modern computer).

After you've caught up with the episodes, check out this 2004 article by Tim Hunkin discussing the history of the first season and offering some technological updates since the show aired. See also: Hunkin's account of the second season and the third season (also known as The Secret Life of the Office).

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October 19, 2007 - 7:30am
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