The Printing Press
Every day, I pick up at least one book, read the words printed onto the pages and I get to enjoy stories and facts spread out in front of me, conveniently printed onto a small thing that I can carry around with relative ease. Today I began to think about what it would be like before we had this convenient way of printing books and information. I began to think back to when I learned about the invention of a device that meant information became widespread; the printing press.
Before the printing press, all recorded information had to be written by hand. This meant that it took a long time for copies to be made. Each article was unique as it was hard to exactly replicate, but also because it would have the personal touch of not only the scribe but also the owner, the bookbinder and the illustrator. There was a much more detailed production processed involved before the printing press. It is unknown when the first-ever printing press was invented, though it is theorised that it was first invented in China, with the first printed text being The Diamond Sutra, a Buddhist book, first printed around 868 AD. This was done using block printing. These types of books began to replaced rolled up roll in popularity. Woodblock printing was being done not only in China at this point, but also in Japan and Korea, with metal block printing being developed soon after too.
In Europe, the printing press was used much later, around one hundred and fifty years later, with it being introduced by Johannes Gutenburg, with his version being a metal block printing press, with each of the blocks being replaced with the letters. He also used replica casting in order to replicate this in larger quantities, beginning to mass print and mass distribute the texts. One such text was actually the first works of Andreas Vesalius, ‘The Fabricus’. This allowed for information to be more widely spread and distributed to a larger number of people, which encouraged people to have access to a wider amount of knowledge. This revolution was near the beginning of the renaissance and continued to have an impact. Gutenberg, however, had problems with the printing press, as he borrowed money to bring about his invention from Fust, who partnered with Gutenburg to make books. They only ever printed one book though, The Bible which has come to be known as the Gutenburg Bible. Fust later foreclosed on Gutenburg and in the following lawsuit, Gutenberg lost all of his equipment to Fust and Schoffer.
It is revolutionary how the world changes from one century, even from one decade, to the next. With every second that passes, we are closer to a revolutionary idea in the making, one that could change the world forever with the simplest of things. The printing press revolutionised the way that we print and distribute information. Books, texts and writings of all kinds are more available now than they have ever been and that first step was the printing press.