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The First Printing Press

Updated on February 20, 2016
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

When you hold a book in your hands, you do not stop and think of the journey it took to arrive there. It didn't just appear. To have it in your hand, it took a long trip. The development of printing is a wonderful exploration that every reader and author should explore. It's the best way to fully appreciate the wonderful book.

Publishing Books Took Forever

Centuries ago, books were rare and highly valued as they had to be copied by hand which could take years for each book. During the Middle Ages, monks would spend hours hunched over manuscripts and copied them by hand with only the light of a candle to guide them. These men sacrificed their health to save books from being lost and forgotten.

We can print books in a matter of hours today. But back then it took years for one book! That was too long. Which leads to ideas and inventions.

The Chinese were the First

The idea of being able to print books faster by the use of movable type was actually invented in China in the early 11th century. Due to the fact that there was not a lot of communication between East and West, Europe was unaware of this wonderful process. It wasn’t until the 15th century that Johannes Gutenberg developed the first printing press known to the Western world. This one invention has been described by many as the greatest invention the world has ever known.

Changed the World

To be able to have a book created in a matter of days compared to years was a huge achievement. Possibilities were endless. What could the world do with this?

This opened the door politically, religiously, and educationally and changed all of Europe. For the first time politicians could quickly get their propaganda out to the masses. Politics could reach more people and visually increase their exposure.

Literacy would increase throughout Europe. The availability of books would be in volumes like no one had ever seen before. In fact, one of the biggest results that came from the Gutenberg press was the availability to the masses of religious texts. No longer were they limited in access. Other hands could touch them.

Changed the Religious Landscape

By creating a press in which each letter was pre-formed, a page of a book could be created as fast as the letter tiles could be set into place and be rolled upon them. All it took then was the set of tiles with the desired words to be pressed down on the paper. This coincided with the Reformation and the translation of the Christian Bible by Martin Luther into the German vernacular. To have a Bible in the words of the common man was amazing enough. The ability to actually have a Bible in every home was miraculous.

Now the average person could read it themselves and see what the words really were.

Brought Us the Classics

The printing press was a revolutionary invention that has brought books as close as the local bookstore. It is to the printing press that we can thank for easily bringing us practically every work from as far back as Homer’s The Iliad to the book that was published yesterday. Without the printing press, we would be without all the books that adorn or shelves.

We owe our thanks to the Chinese who were constantly looking for better ways to learn and to Johannes Gutenberg for bringing that same idea to the West in transforming every culture in Europe and even the Middle East.

Thank You, Great Inventors

The next time you pick up a book, think of how blessed we are in this world today to so easily have the printed word to open the gateway to far-off lands, for us to experience young romance, to join in the adventures of pirates and soldiers, to read the stories of those that lived long ago, or to even read a book on how to build furniture.

One man changed it all and brought us the doorway to new lands. Who knew what that one invention would do? :Thank you, great inventors for the sweat and tears that has brought us such great joy.


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