The printing press was invented during the Holy Roman Empire by the German Johannes Gutenberg around 1440, based on existing screw presses.
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium, thereby transferring the ink.
Who Invented the Printing Press?
Johannes Gutenberg is usually cited as the inventor of the printing press. Indeed, the German goldsmith’s 15th-century contribution to the technology was revolutionary enabling the mass production of books and the rapid dissemination of knowledge throughout Europe.
Gutenberg determined that to speed up the printing process, he would need to break the conventional wooden blocks down into their individual components (lower and upper-case letters), punctuation marks. He cast these movable blocks of letters and symbols out of various metals, including lead, antimony and tin. He also created his own ink using linseed oil and soot.
But what really set Gutenberg was his development of a press that mechanized the transfer of ink from movable type to paper. Adapting the screw mechanisms found in wine presses, papermakers’ presses and linen presses, Gutenberg developed a press perfectly suited for printing. The first printing press allowed for an assembly line-style production process that was much more efficient than pressing paper to ink by hand. For the first time in history, books could be mass-produced and at a fraction of the cost of conventional printing methods.
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Why was the invention of printing press so important?
In the centuries before the print, books were handwritten by trained scribes. So, the books were so expensive to create and only available to the rich. Knowledge was strictly controlled by those who could afford or who had access to books. Knowledge was often controlled by the church, which had the resources to pay scribes and could decide that it was written. Once the books were readily available to the average person, literacy increased and the power of the church began to be decentralized.
The printing technique spreads rapidly. Fifty years after the Gutenberg Bibles, there were 2,500 presses operating all over Europe. With so many printed books, information has been shared at an unprecedented rate. Maps, facts and history could be recorded accurately and quickly, leading to an explosion of scientific knowledge, as scientists could gather their information to promote their understanding of the world.
In addition to books, newspapers and other periodicals began to be printed. This has created communities that could share common information and interests. The written word was able to advance new ideas, bring people together, and sometimes control the government’s power. The printing itself, with its interchangeable mobile parts, set the stage for many other tools and machines that could produce new products. Because of its discoveries in production and its ability to spread knowledge, the press has really opened up the modern world.
What Impact Did the Invention of the Printing Press Have on Society and Religion?
Johann Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press around 1448 had a significant impact on the spread of ideas in Europe and beyond. Printing technology traveled quickly across Europe and, at a time of great religious change, played a key role in the success of the Protestant Reformation.
The printing press drastically cut the cost of producing books and other printed materials. Prior to Gutenberg’s invention, the only way of making multiple copies of a book was to copy the text by hand. The materials involved were also costly: Monks wrote on treated skins, known as vellum. Printing onto paper made copying cheaper and faster.
The first books Gutenberg printed with his press were copies of the Bible. The Gutenberg Bibles were immensely popular, and all 200 copies were sold even before the copying was complete. The newly printed version Gutenberg created became the standard version and the basis for most future Bible texts.
Gutenberg’s printing press “meant more access to information, more dissent, more informed discussion and more widespread criticism of authorities,” observes the British Library. As such, the printing press played a key role in popularizing ideas associated with the new Protestant faith during the European Reformation, allowing the press to shape and channel a mass movement.
Protestant thinkers used the printing press to spread their ideas across Europe, mainly through pamphlets. In the very early years of the Reformation, German-language printing presses produced hundreds of pamphlets by Reformation leader Martin Luther, outnumbering Catholic writers five to three and making up 20 percent of all pamphlets published between 1500 and 1530. The invention of the printing press removed control of written material from the Catholic Church and made it difficult for the church to inhibit the spread of what it regarded as heretical ideas.
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image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther
What was the benefit of printing press on education?
The printing press has had enormous implications for education and the state of the world.
Hundreds or thousands of copies of one scholar’s work could be made and dispersed after the invention of the printing press. Ideas from the Italian Renaissance spread west and north, and influenced artists, scientists and philosophers throughout Europe and beyond.
Before the invention of the printing press, ideas and experiences often died with the person who possessed, so each generation had to start from scratch. The invention of the printing press meant scholars could read work done by other scholars and build on this knowledge. Scholars could communicate their ideas with other people working on similar ideas who lived in different areas.
The printing press vastly reduced the amount of human labor involved in making books, so the price of books came down considerably. Hence, people could buy books who were never able to buy them before. Libraries were established and commoners became more educated than ever before.
image source: http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/permanent/gutenbergbible/
How the printing evolved?
Printing press, machine by which text and images are transferred to paper or other media by means of ink. Although movable type, as well as paper, first appeared in China, it was in Europe that printing first became mechanized. The earliest mention of a printing press is in a lawsuit in Strasbourg in 1439 revealing construction of a press for Johannes Gutenberg and his associates.
The invention of the printing press itself obviously owed much to the medieval paper press, in turn modeled after the ancient wine-and-olive press of the Mediterranean area. A long handle was used to turn a heavy wooden screw, exerting downward pressure against the paper, which was laid over the type mounted on a wooden platen. In its essentials, the wooden press reigned supreme for more than 300 years, with a hardly varying rate of 250 sheets per hour printed on one side.
Metal presses began to appear late in the 18th century, at about which time the advantages of the cylinder were first perceived and the application of steam power was considered. By the mid-19th century, Richard M. Hoe of New York had perfected a power-driven cylinder press in which a large central cylinder carrying the type successively printed on the paper of four impression cylinders, producing 8,000 sheets an hour in 2,000 revolutions. The rotary press came to dominate the high-speed newspaper field, but the flatbed press, having a flat bed to hold the type and either a reciprocating platen or a cylinder to hold the paper, continued to be used for job printing.
A significant innovation of the late 19th century was the offset press, in which the printing (blanket) cylinder runs continuously in one direction while paper is impressed against it by an impression cylinder. Offset printing is especially valuable for colour printing, because an offset press can print multiple colours in one run. Offset lithography—used for books, newspapers, magazines, business forms, and direct mail—continued to be the most widely used printing method at the start of the 21st century, though it was challenged by ink-jet, laser, and other printing methods.
Apart from the introduction of electric power, advances in press design between 1900 and the 1950s consisted of a great number of relatively minor mechanical modifications designed to improve the speed of the operation. Among these changes were better paper feed, improvements in plates and paper, automatic paper reels, and photoelectric control of colour register. The introduction of computers in the 1950s revolutionized printing composition, with more and more steps in the print process being replaced by digital data. At the end of the 20th century, a new electronic printing method, print-on-demand, began to compete with offset printing, though it—and printing generally—came under increasing pressure in developed countries as publishers, newspapers, and others turned to online means of distributing what they had previously printed on paper.
info and image source: https://www.britannica.com/technology/printing-press