A very dirty Mann

In a previous post, I revealed several behind-the-scenes pictures of our film shoot with Linda & the Mann Measuring Machine. If you’ll humor me, I’d like to give some more background on the state in which we found the Mann–a sort of behind the scenes of the behind the scenes if you will.

First off: the Mann Measuring Machine was very very dirty when we first encountered it.

Clutter on the Mann Measuring Machine

The Mann led quite a cluttered existence before we got our hands on it. Photo by Paul Erickson.

Naturally, Matt and I ended up on cleaning duty. Per Roy’s suggestion (and supplies), we used lint-free cloth towels and sometimes very little water, which we never applied directly to the machine. The Mann looked a lot better in a matter of minutes, but we spent several hours total over a couple days getting the machine to shine a bit again.

The Mann Machine at the start of the film shoot

The Mann Measuring Machine is ready for its close-up, Ms. Sullivan. Photo by the author.

The clean-up duty was not yet over however. We had to move the Mann because it had been on a diagonal for some time now so that it wouldn’t jut out and get in the way in the plate room where it had spent most of its “retired” life. When we returned it to its original orientation, we were not surprised to find more dirt and dust underneath.

Dirt and old punched card on the table of the Mann Machine

The spot on the table where the Mann used to rest (you can guess what the rest of the machine looked like when we started cleaning). We were able to retrieve an old punched card that had been stuck under the machine, too! Photo by the author.

On the other side of the machine, which was also exposed anew, we found a dead bug. I made Matt dispose of it. You can also see the remains of an old punched card that is somehow fused to the table.

A dead bug on the Mann Machine Table

Grosssssss dead bug. Also punched card. Photo by the author.

Soon enough, the Mann was ready for action, film shoot-wise.

Melissa films a close-up of Linda using the foot pedal with the Mann Machine

Linda pretends to use the foot pedal that she used to punch her measurements onto IBM cards (later to be read by a card reader in the Exley Science Tower). Melissa captures a close-up. Photo by the author.

The next day, Matt and I conducted an oral history interview with Linda. We asked her about the current condition of the Mann Machine, and she said it’s not too too different from the original. She also told us that there was a picture of her with the Mann in a textbook from the ’80s. After a little hunting around the basement library, we hit the jackpot!


Linda with the Mann Measuring Machine in an old textbook! Note the chapter title and graphic description of parallax measuring. Photo of Linda, courtesy of Art Upgren (see photo). Photo (of the textbook page) by the author.

I am very proud of our Mann and very very proud of Linda. All this leads me to say is: fresh.

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