Engineering Innovations: The Printing Press

Knowledge is power, and the invention of the mechanical movable type printing press helped spread knowledge wider and faster than ever before.

German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg is credited with inventing the modern printing press around 1436, although he was not the first to automate the book-printing process. Woodblock printing in China goes back to the 9th century and Korean bookmakers were printing with moveable metal type a century before Gutenberg.

Historians believe Gutenberg’s adaptation, which employed a screw-type wine press to squeeze down evenly on the inked metal type, was the key to unlocking the modern age. With the newfound ability to inexpensively mass-produce books on every imaginable topic, revolutionary ideas and priceless ancient knowledge were placed in the hands of every literate European, whose numbers were doubling every century.

Gutenberg didn’t live to see the immense impact of his invention. His greatest accomplishment was the first print run of the Bible in Latin, which took three years to print around 200 copies, an incredible speedy achievement in the day of hand-copied manuscripts.

Gutenberg’s invention wasn’t commercial at first because of the absence of a distribution network for books. He died penniless, his presses impounded by his creditors. Other German printers fled for greener pastures, eventually arriving in Venice, which was the central shipping hub of the Mediterranean in the late 15th century. A distribution network was discovered by selling books to sea captains who sold them on around the world. Suddenly the printing press became commercially viable as market demand was now married up with the new technology.

Technology in information dissemination has grown since then in leaps and bounds leading to worldwide coverage in seconds, not just in the written word but in many other formats.

I think this technology led to increased worldwide wealth, increased pace of life, and an ever quicker evolving society.

Hope you have a good month

All the best



“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”  – Steve Jobs

“Some men look at things the way they are and ask why?
I dream of things that are not and ask why not?” – Robert Kennedy

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