“Printing Press” – Cardwell

Once written language became widespread, the popularity of books and other forms of written literature followed.  The only problem was the slow tedious task of copying books by hand.  This process could be expedited through a stamp, however, still not efficient.  All of this changed after Johan Gutenberg shook the literary world with his invention.  Gutenberg created a way for books to be copied hundreds of times over using what we call the printing press.

The printing press is a device that allows for the copying of text from one document to another.  The press has a series of metal letters that are arranged to form words.  Gutenberg’s father was a goldsmith to the archbishop of Mainz, the town in which Gutenberg was born.  Gutenberg followed in the footsteps of his father and became a metallurgical craftsman.  It was the skills that he learned through metal working that allowed his invention to be made.

Gutenberg’s first attempt at a printing device was rubber stamps.  He proposed to make letters and whole words into a collection of stamps.  However, there was two major flaws to this plan.  The first being the variation in letter size.  A capitol “M” is much larger in size than a lower case “i”.  This would mean that there is no standard stamp size.  The second issue was the thickness of the type.  The amount of error throughout the stamps use increases dramatically, sometimes within the same work.  The letters at the beginning of the paper would be legible and neat but the end would be an indecipherable mess.  This failure led to the brilliant idea that all the letters had to be cast in the same mold

This new system is the way that the printing press is always pictured.  The letters exist as keys that are placed next to each other to form words, sentences, and paragraphs.  This new system was a great success.  Book production fifty years following Gutenberg created more books than a thousand years prior.  This invention allowed the widespread use of books and the sharing of information.

The printing press still affects the course of daily life today.  Imagine sitting in a lecture class where the information has been orally passed down for generations.  How could we be sure that information has remained the same over the years.

“The Printing Press” – The History Guide (http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/press.html)

This article describes the life and career of Johan Gutenberg.  It begins with a introduction to the Renaissance era and then moves into Gutenberg.  In this article, it explains Gutenberg’s Bible project, which was a way for the printing press to gain fame by printing two hundred copies of the Bible.  Fifty of these Bibles exist today.  The article ends with the explanation of the legacy of this great invention.

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