SACRAMENTO — You wouldn't know it at first glance, but Sacramento History Museum volunteer Howard Hatch is a social media star.
The retired former aerospace engineer in his mid-80s educates people ironically on printing technology that can be over a century in age to the newest generations on the latest tech.
His printing techniques have struck a chord and helped the museum's TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube accounts rack over 7 million followers.
"I just don't get it. You know what the attraction is?" Hatch said.
Hatch said he's not too good when it comes to technology and only recently, and begrudgingly, got a smartphone.
"For the longest time, I had just a flip phone, and it died, so I had to get a smartphone," Hatch said
On both TikTok and YouTube, the museum has over 2.7 million followers and subscribers, far greater than some of the country's biggest and most well-known museums.
Hatch said that YouTube recently informed them they had reached over a billion views on the platform.
"You know, every time we think we've reached a plateau, the media proves us wrong," he said.
The creative behind the camera filming Hatch is the museum's social media manager, Jared Jones, a staff member.
He, too, did print demonstrations and said it was during the pandemic when they were forced to concentrate efforts online that he decided to experiment on TikTok.
From their latest research, Pew says two-thirds of teenagers report using TikTok, which Jones said really launched them.
"All of these videos were initially only on TikTok," Jones said. "I was trying to post these videos on our other platforms; the same video that would get tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of views on TikTok would get 300 views on these other platforms."
He, too, said he doesn't quite understand the popularity, but one aspect he thinks helps is.
"We are not only talking history. We are demonstrating it by using this historic equipment in our shop," Jones said.
Hatch said such is the popularity that people now go to great lengths to see his work in person, including one group who went the extra mile.
"They were coming from the Philippines, and just to come from there to Sacramento, just to look at what we're doing," he said. "Okay, You know, if that's what you want to do."
Even with the newfound attention, Hatch said he just enjoys passing on and keeping history alive.