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22 May 2015

The Origins of the Maker Movement

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Half-way between a science fair, a county fair, and a fair that is entirely different from anything else, Maker Faires gather tech enthusiasts, engineers, educators, amateurs and students of all ages, who come to share their creations and experiences.

Who is Dale Dougherty

Dale Dougherty invented the Maker Faire in 2006. One year before, the factory he had co-founded, O’Reilly Media, had launched Make magazine. This publication, inspired by the century-old Popular Mechanics, is the benchmark and main catalyst of a culture that is already worth millions of dollars worldwide and has Barack Obama among its followers: the makers.

In fact, the White House hosted the first Maker Faire in June last year. Neil Gershenfeld, the director of the Bits and Atoms Center at the MIT, was there. Gershenfeld showed a mobile Fab Lab to the U.S. president, the truck version of the Fabs Labs that the MIT invented 14 years ago so people could make things using digital and analog tools.


Obama was so fascinated by the inventions that engineers, students, inventors and researchers had taken to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, that he decreed June 18 the Maker Day. The devices on display included a big robot with a giraffe body, a low-cost incubator, a 3D printer to make pancakes and a portable 128 square meter house.

The history of the Maker Faires

The first Maker Faire took place in the Californian city of San Mateo. Dale Dougherty thought that the time had come to bring together the people who designed and made things at home with the help of new digital tools and using the knowledge stored on the Internet. Today, this fair is visited by hundreds of thousands of people. More than 250,000 took part in 2008 alone.

In his Linkedln profile, Dougherty says that in addition to coining the term web 2.0, in 1993 he created the first publication on the Internet with commercial support and was the first to offer those pages to advertisers. A milestone that put an end to the traditional business model of the media. That was more than 20 years ago and the media are still lost in the maze.

Five years after Dougherty launched Make magazine, Chris Anderson wrote in Wired, the publication of which he was the editor, an article entitled “Atoms are the new bits”. He explained how the democratization of technology was leading to a new way of making things that would change the world. He reflected that thought two years later in the book “Makers, the new Industrial Revolution”, where among other things he claims that just like the Internet put an end to the mass media’s monopoly over information, micromanufacturing will end with the monopoly of mass manufacturing. Just in case, Intel, General Electric, Bq and Autodesk have already integrated maker profiles into their staffs.

This text is an excerpt of the original article by Covadonga Fernández. You can find the full text here.

Covadonga Fernández

Journalist at the R&D&I department of Canal de Isabel II

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