I work in the area commonly known as Learning Technology, or Educational Technology. I don’t have much time for trying to pin down what exactly constitutes “technology” in that context, and certainly none for considerations like “printing is technology, does that count”. But today I bought a book which does quite literally(*) illustrate advances in printing applied to learning.

The book is a reprint of the Oliver Byrne’s *The first six books of ***the elements of Euclid** in which coloured diagrams and symbols are used instead of letters for the greater ease of learners which was first published in 1847. Instead of the conventional referencing of lines, shapes and angle by letters used in geometry text books. So instead of:

**Proposition 30**: Straight lines parallel to the same straight line are also parallel to one another.

Let each of the straight lines AB and CD be parallel to EF.

I say that AB is also parallel to CD.

Let the straight line GK fall upon them. Since the straight line GK falls on the parallel straight lines AB and EF, therefore the angle AGK equals the angle GHF.

Again, since the straight line GK falls on the parallel straight lines EF and CD, therefore the angle GHF equals the angle GKD.

But the angle AGK was also proved equal to the angle GHF. Therefore the angle AGK also equals the angle GKD, and they are alternate.

Therefore AB is parallel to CD.

Therefore straight lines parallel to the same straight line are also parallel to one another.

This book has:

Colour printing of books was not common in 1847, it only became commercially viable after the invention new printing techniques in the C19th and mass production of cheap synthetic dyes, starting with mauvine in 1856, so this can fairly be called advanced technology for its time. Like many uses of technology to enhance learning, when colour printing of text books did become commonplace, it wasn’t used with the same imagination as shown by the pioneers.

* except, of course, that “literally” means according to the written word and this is a book of pictures. #CetisPedantry

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