• Charmaine Crasto

The power of print


A replica of the Gutenberg movable printing type

Can you think of an invention more revolutionary than the world wide web? Well, maybe not more, but just as much.

A bigger clue? Imagine the world today without printing!

If you haven’t figured it out yet, you’ve probably made Johannes Gutenberg roll in his grave, as it’s the Gutenberg mechanical printing press that is considered as one of the most important inventions in world history.

Printing before Gutenberg’s invention was a term associated with image replication by hand, including books that were produced laboriously by professional copyists. Thus, the invention of the printing press is considered as a revolution by itself that belongs to the age of enlightenment. Although Gutenberg may not have been the first to invent the movable type, as that was something we credit the Chinese for, he was still the first to absolute the system of the mechanical moving type and harmonize it into a printing press, giving birth to the era of mass printing and hence communication.

Johannes Gutenberg, a native of Mainz, Germany, was intrigued by metalwork at a very young age as he spent many of his growing years toying around with instruments in his father’s goldsmith shop. However, it was only in the year 1439 that Gutenberg made available to the world an epidemic of printed books through the introduction of his printing press. It was the use of oil based inks in combination with mechanized printing proposed by Gutenberg that aided in the momentous exit from water based ink and handwritten manuscripts that had been a constant for centuries. Not only did the printing press transition how printed materials were generated, it also enhanced the delivery of wisdom and knowledge. Today, in our unending expedition for informational and enticing content, we ravenously consume books, newsletters, magazines and other sources of the printed word, all made easily available thanks to Gutenberg’s monumental invention.

The invention of the printing press saw literacy rates soared as book prices took a drastic dip, further contributing to the sudden spurt in scientific, philosophical and literary research and development. While the printing press aided in a spread of wisdom and knowledge, Gutenberg’s first form of commercial success arrived via the printing of 200 illustrated Latin Bibles, which came to be known as the Gutenberg Bible and holds the place of ‘First major book to be printed using mass-producing movable metal type printing’ in Europe.

Johannes Gutenberg goes down as one of the greatest pioneers of practical, labour intensive working methods and his wise adjustment to the age old art of printing has gone unchanged for over five centuries. While significant changes do exist in today’s methods of printing as compared to the first movable type invented by Gutenberg, he is still to be hailed for setting the foundation for such revolutionary modus. The legacy of Gutenberg and his printing shall live on forever. Whether you are reading this blog online or a hard copy, you have Johannes Gutenberg to thank for that.


Gutenberg Bible displayed at a library

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