A Brief History. Elements of Geometrie.
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Elements of Geometrie, published in London in 1570, is the first English translations of Euclid’s Elements. John Dee’s preface to Henry Billingsley’s Elements included pop-ups. The Thomas L. Fisher Library at the University of Toronto has one of the original copies of this text and has made pictures of the original available on the Internet.
Moreover Cameo Wood a student at Simon’s Rock College of Bard University posted a movie on You-tube that demonstrates the operation of these pop-ups.
Another well-known example of the use of pop-up models to illustrate solid geometry is John Lodge Cowley’s Geometry Made Easy first published in 1752. The University of Michigan’s rare books library has a copy believed to date from some time in the 1760’s.
In the late 1970’s BBC-TV introduced a series of programs with mathematical themes such as Think of a Number. By 1982 Johnny Ball, the star of the series produced Johnny Ball’s Think Box a book with numerous mathematical oddities including some basic pop-up models of Platonic solids.
Paul Jackson provided hands-on instruction to popularize general pop-up techniques in 1993.
Jan Baranowski explored properties of some collapsible models of the tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, rhombic dodecahedron and cubo-octahedron in 1992.
Hans Walser and Scott Johnson have written perhaps the most serious works in this area. In 1996 Walser shared an office with Jean Pederson at Santa Clara University. Pederson was working with Peter Hilton on a project involving extensions to the Pascal Triangle that could be modeled by a cuboctahedron. Pederson hoped to have a model that would fold flat in a briefcase to travel to lectures. Walser developed a model that interested many of Pederson’s students. One student in particular, Scott Johnson, was eager to help in the development of a number of pop-up polyhedra. Johnson and Walser have written several articles describing their models and the techniques they developed to build them. Note Johnson is a Middle School teacher in California.