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Gutenberg Press

Updated on March 10, 2008

Importance of the Gutenberg Press

A German named Johannes Gutenberg died a poor man in 1468. Little did he know that his invention, the Gutenberg printing press, would be a major component in the the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, and the spread of Christianity. Yet, this simple invention did all of those things.

Johannes Gutenberg worked for 15 years perfecting his printing press. He revealed his moveable type printing press to the public in the 1450s. The very first printed Bible was printed on the Gutenberg Press in 1453 and is called the Gutenberg Bible.

Up until the development of the Gutenberg Press, books were painstakingly handwritten and copied. Only the very wealthiest and most educated had access to books. With the invention of the Gutenberg Press, books became more widely available, and quicker and cheaper to make.

Most people still couldn't afford books. But scholars were able to exchange ideas and knowledge much more easily and quickly than ever before. This indirectly led to an end of the Dark Ages. The exchange of ideas would lead to the Renaissance and eventually to the Industrial Revolution.

Because of the mass printings of the Gutenberg printing press, eventually books started becoming more available to the middle class. This caused a signigicant decrease in illiteracy rates in Europe. Knowledge started becoming accessible to more people. More people were able to read the Bible for themselves. They were no longer at the mercy of the privileged clergy telling them what was contained in the Bible.

Without the help of the Gutenberg printer, thousands of copies of Martin Luther's criticisms of the Roman Catholic church would not have been distributed to the Masses. The Protestant Reformation may never have occurred at all.

The Gutenberg Printing Press also birthed the very first newspapers and news pamphlets. Without these, many events in world history would have never occurred or would have happened very differently. Distribution of news pamphlets helped drum up support for many revolutions, including the American and French revolutions. News reporting also became a major part of American elections and carried lots of influence on the political process.


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