History Of The Printing Press

The history of the printing press goes back to the 1400's when a man named Johannes Gutenberg, a German inventor created the first machine capable of printing books in mass quantities. The invention of the printing press was a major accomplishment. Before that time all manuscripts were produced and reproduced by hand. The Bible was the first mass produced book that Gutenberg undertook. Before that time a handwritten Bible could take as long as 20 plus years to reproduce if one person were working on it. By 1500 hundreds of printing presses existed in Europe. The invention of rolled paper allowed the presses to produce manuscripts and books much faster and in larger quantities. Today rotary machines can produce millions of copies per day if needed.

Gutenberg was skilled in the use of metals and oil based inks. The history of the printing press involves the determination of one man and how the creation of mass printing changed the world. Some sources compare this invention to be as important as the discoveries of writing and the Internet. The rise in communication caused historical developments in education, the creation of new occupations including writers and artists, development of scientific thought, increase of religious publications, and the knowledge of history. Now it is possible to read about people from other cultures and how they might have lived hundreds or thousands of years ago. Religious publications have led to the reformation of many denominational teachings and more understanding about different religions. Job in the Bible longed for His words to be in print. "Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth (Job 19:23-25).

Before the invention of the printing press books were usually too expensive to purchase except for the rich. After the invention books became cheaper so that more people could afford to purchase them. This led to the development of colleges and the need for more books. Scientists were able to readily communicate their findings leading to the creation of scholarly journals. Now we have online databases in online libraries that offer articles, essays, news, periodicals, and so other many types of publications at our fingertips. From the press to the Internet any person with Internet service and a computer can have access to an unlimited amount of information.

The history of the printing press led the way for literacy to increase. Before the capability existed, books could costs as much as a piece of land or more than a home. Even today, some books are worth thousands of dollars because of their popularity, their age or because of the way they were produced and the paper or parchment they were produced on. Some books are so rare because there are few in print, they were produced by hand, and for other reasons are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is the reason there are book collectors because some manuscripts are worth a great amount of money and some people consider them rare masterpieces and indeed they are.

As time went by more sophisticated machines were created. Friedrich Koenig created a machine that was operated with steam instead of man-powered in the 1800's. The invention of the printing press using steam led to faster and larger quantities of print which led to the capability of producing newspapers in mass quantities. Later the rotary press made it possible to produce millions of copies in one day. Rotary presses can cut, fold, and bind in a cover in one continuous process. The paper is on a roll and can print over 50,000 copies per hour and in color. The three main parts of a rotary machine include the paper roll, the printing plate, and the compression of the cylinders between the paper roll.

The invention of the printing press led to the creation of screen-printing, photocopying, laser printing, dot matrix, thermal, inkjet, digital, and 3D. This led to the capability of copying images and art. Today images and print appear on clothing, ceramics, glass, paper, metals, wood, polyethylene, CDs, DVDs, and so on. Photocopying was invented in the 1960's using a dry heat to create images on paper. Photocopying has been an important component of businesses, educational institutions, and government institutions. Could the creation of computers and digital document creation eventually make photocopiers obsolete? With the aid of a printer the user can print as many copies of a document as needed at any one time. However, some companies today are still using large industrial photocopiers to mass produce documents that go out to their stores and customers.

The history of the printing press is an important part of the history of literacy and largely responsible for the inevitable spread of knowledge. With the capability of mass producing books and manuscripts people were able to put their knowledge down and supply it to those who needed it. Some of this is seen in instruction manuals on every subject imaginable. Today, we are living in the Information age, as the printing press contributed to that now the Internet is continuing to bring us information about anything we can imagine. The Internet makes it possible to not only learn about anything desired but allows a person to connect with anyone in the world who has a website address or email, in a chat room or through instant messaging.

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