Industrial Revolution: “Extra! Extra!”

Fast forward 350 years! This scene of the ride introduces us to the start of the Industrial Revolution – where we begin to draw our energy not from renewable resources (man power, water, windmills, animal muscle power) but from coal, gas, and oil (7).  Its also where communication changes from word of mouth over trade routes and books to the daily dissemination of information.

Steam Printing Press

After Gutenberg’s press not much changed for over 100 years! There were further developments over time that increased the productivity of the printing press. In 1620 we were introduced to the Blaew Press  with a  modified screw and a rolling bed.  Various iterations of the press were developed between 1798 with the Stanhope Press made of cast iron through Samuel Rusts’s “Washington Press” in 1827 which introduced a toggle and a lighter frame (1).

The first attempt to mechanize printing was around 1823 when Daniel Treadwell added gears and power to a wooden-framed platen press.   In order to print in large numbers quickly a rotary press was invented in 1844 by Richard Hoe.  A rotary press prints on paper when it passes between two cylinders; one cylinder supports the paper, and the other cylinder contains the print plates or mounted type. The first rotary press could print up to 8,000 copies per hour (2).

“The foundation and growth of newspapers first published periodically, and finally each day, created a demand for machines which should print with rapidity.”

William Bullock of Pennsylvania created the first printing machine to print from a continuous roll of paper in 1865 (around the time of the end of the civil war) (1).

Illustration of the Bullock Press
Copyright Hoe, R. (1902). New York, Roe Printing Press

In this scene we are in a New York City newspaper printing shop as a pressman works on the daily newspaper.   According to Jim Korkis, the printing press here was designed from the actual patent drawings filed by William Bullock in 1863 (3).   It certainly appears to be a rotary press however its difficult to see the giant roll of paper if it exists.

Steam powered press scene from Spaceship Earth

The Newspaper

There were some subtle changes to this ride post 2008.  Before  2008, the background of the press was in darkness and the previous newspaper didn’t show a prominent headline which was accurate for this era of newspaper printing.

End of the Civil War - New York Times Front Page Reprint
End of the Civil War – New York Times Front Page Reprint

The addition of the prominent headline makes sense for show purposes as it helps to define where we are in the timeline.  The new version of the scene also shows many more newspapers available from the press.

The Library of Congress has online archives of various newspapers from this era that show similar, less prominent headlines.

Scene from Spaceship Earth - bundles of newspaper wtih Civil War Over! as the headline

Newspapers became the primary means by which community leaders, political activists,  writers, religious leaders, business owners and others shared their issues over distances both large and small (4).  Even with daily newspapers, news had a lag where foreign correspondents would send their stories via letter that took weeks to arrive at the editors’ office.

The Pressman

This fella has had a makeover – got a haircut, added some glasses and facial hair.   I can’t quite tell if its the same animatronic or if he just had a makeover.

Pressman with no facial hair
Pressman with facial hair and glasses

Regardless, the pressman is African American and this is very important because this time was the beginning of the African-American Civil Rights Movement with The Civil Rights Act of 1866 granting citizenship and the same rights enjoyed by white citizens to all male* persons in the United States “without distinction of race or color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude.”

*Women are still getting the shaft here!   Its important to note that this was about 150 years ago from present time – which is the blink of an eye compared to the rest of this ride’s timeline.  Something to think about, not just for women but any underrepresented group.

Extra! Extra!

Congress created the U.S. Post Office in 1792 with he legal responsibility to circulate knowledge of all kinds across throughout the nation (4).  For those not getting their newspaper delivered, there were newspaper street vendors.  Special issues of newspapers outside the normal print were called “extra” editions, hence the term “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”.

Scene from Spaceship Earth featuring newspaper boy facing the ride vehicles


This paperboy won the hearts of so many time travelers!   Unfortunately, after the 2008 refurb, the paperboy was turned away.   With the additional lighting in the back of the press the point of view of the time traveler is that of a more behind the scenes so the paperboy is now selling papers towards the street.  It must be cooler in that corner because he’s wearing more sweaters than before.

Scene from Spaceship Earth featuring newspaper boy facing away from the ride vehicles


Extra! Extra! New York Daily!


Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Radio, telephone links two continents. Read all about it. Telephone crosses Atlantic. Get your evening paper here! (5)

2008 – Present

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Lee surrenders at Appomattox! Civil War is over! Extra! Extra! (6)

Clip about scene from 1982 Spaceship Earth Guide
From 1982 Spaceship Earth Guide


Because animatronics are complex, time intensive to create, and expensive – its common to duplicate the models that are made and dress them differently.   In this scene – the Pressman is said to also be the Banjo Player from the Depression scene in American Adventure (3).


February 15, 2008 – current (narrated by Judy Dench)

Books it seems were just the beginning. Now communication technology races head long into the future, and soon people all over the world are sharing life’s most important moments faster than ever before.

November 23, 1994 to July 9, 2007 (narrated by Jeremy Irons)

On this wave of inspiration, we sailed into a bold, new era of communication bringing an explosion of tools and technologies which would bridge people around the world as never before. And as our appetite for information and knowledge grew, the world began to shrink.

May 26, 1986 to August 15, 1994 (narrated by Walter Cronkite)

On this wave of inspiration, we sail into a bold, new era. An age of astounding inventions and ever increasing progress in communications.

October 1, 1982 – May 25, 1986 (narrated by Larry Dobkin)

The Renaissance, a beacon through the mists of time, guiding us to a new era. A time of invention and exploding communication.

July 22, 1977 – Ray Bradbury script

We built new towns – we made machines and powered them with steam. Around the World small campfires grew – became a massive blaze. Each campfire gathered millions in – Many faces, many Colors – many Tongues and Cultures joined…And then we asked ourselves: How in a world so vast as this — how keep the Campfires lit, how stay in touch to make So many men and women talk and think and move toward common dreams?

  1. Hoe, R. (1902). A Short History of the Printing Press and of the Improvements in Printing Machinery from the Time of Gutenberg Up to the Present Day  New York, Roe Printing Press
  4. Hillstrom, K. & L.C. (2007).  The Industrial Revolution in America: Communications  Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO
  7. Toffler A. (1981). The Third Wave New York, Bantam Books