The Printing Press

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The Printing Press
It is argued that the printing press is one of the most significant inventions of all time ranked alongside the wheel and the plow (Johannes Gutenberg and, 2009). The man credited with its invention is Johannes Gutenberg, born of Mainz, Germany around 1400 (Childress, 2008). Johannes began his work with the printing press around 1430 and developed his first prototype somewhere around the mid-15th century. As with most inventions, Gutenberg’s press had precedents in history, especially in Asia where the Chinese had carved texts into wooden blocks (Johannes Gutenberg and, 2009). In the Netherlands, a man by the name of Laurens Janszoon produced a predecessor by using carved blocks of type that could be cut into letters (Johannes Gutenberg and, 2009). Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press was a result of combining three different technologies already in existence; paper, the winepress, and oil-based ink into a single moveable type (Bantwal, 2011). Rather than using wooden letters, Gutenberg used his metal working background and replaced them with letters made of brass or bronze, he then adapted a version of a wine press where the top was used to align and press the letters against the paper that was then lined up and locked into a frame below (Johannes Gutenberg and, 2009). The first samples of paper arrived from China, and at the time paper was not durable enough for hand copied versions of books, instead vellum a much thicker medium was used (Johannes Gutenberg and, 2009). However, Gutenberg soon found out that the thinner less expensive paper worked very well in his press. Finally, Gutenberg found that the use of oil based ink did not smear like the commonly used egg-based tempera. Merging these technologies into one, Gutenberg made modern printing possible and economical.

The invention of the printing press propelled the world into literacy and thus revolutionized how the world communicated then and now: During the 14th...
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