The world's first printing press
Sagar Bhagirath

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Do you enjoy reading books? If yes, you must be surrounded by books shelves in your room, and in the library. But what if you were born before Gutenberg’s invention of the world’s first printing press?

Before the invention the books had to be copied by hand and it took months to make one book. Hence you would have lesser options or maybe you couldn’t even read if the invention hadn’t taken place. The books were expensive and rare and only the higher classes knew how to read.

The invention of the world’s first printing press was one of the important invention of the last thousand years. It was so vital that it made mass production of printed materials conceivable, and helped the human being to spread knowledge and literacy throughout the socio-economic classes.

The world’s very first printing press was invented by German Johannes Gutenberg in the year 1440 in the Holy Roman Empire. Professionally a gold smith, Gutenberg designed a device moulded by hand to create metal movable type, and amended screw presses and other prevailing technologies, to craft a printing system.

Gutenberg’s bible wasn’t the first printed book anyway. The world’s first printing press book was established in China as early as the second century. The Chinese artisans were printing ink on the paper ever since and by 800 A.D they had printed a full length book using wooden block printing. Even with such an historic invention, Guttenberg didn’t make a single penny for his bible.

German Johannes Gutenberg, the mystery man!

the world's first printing press

Though his invention of the world’s first printing press has been monumental in all these centuries, he is yet a greatest question mark in the history. Scholars don’t know his birthplace, whether he married or had children, where he is buried or even what he appeared like. All the information about Gutenberg’s genesis come for legal papers and this indicates that the printing of his bible was a riotous affair.

The invention spread across Europe like a wild fire. It took just two decades for the invention to be implemented in more than dozen European cities. In the 15th century the widespread of printing press was inevitable as almost 20 million volumes had been produced in the operations throughout Western Europe. 150-200 million copies spread through Europe in the next century as the year saw the rise of world’s new branch of media, the press.

Gutenberg being a gold smith by profession used his knowledge of metals to perfection he had learned as a craftsman. He was the pioneer to make type from an alloy of lead, tin and antimony. This alloy was important for producing durable type that fashioned high quality printed books and was better than other known materials. A special matrix was used by Gutenberg to create these lead types which was also considered to be the greatest inventions which formed a uniform template.

Also read: The first archaeological excavation in human history.

A costly affair.

Out of 180 printed in the Gutenberg’s era only 49 exist in the present world with large numbers of volumes with Germany having 14 of them. The last sale of a complete Gutenberg Bible took place in 1978, when a copy went for a mind wobbling $2.2 million. A lone volume later sold for $5.4 million in 1987, and specialists now estimate a complete copy could raise upwards of $35 million at an auction.

The invention of the world’s first printing press was such a catalyst in the renaissance period, just like internet’s invention is for the 21st century. The world would have been so much less without the fuss it made on the newspapers.

The press media wouldn’t have developed if Gutenberg hadn’t stepped up. The human brains would have to be content with the literacy level. How would we read tabloids and enjoy the crispiness of words in magazines without the invention of the press?

The invention of the first printing press was certainly a boon to mankind and we tiny creatures can only lay back reading a newspaper and salute the inventor – German Johannes Gutenberg.

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