“This day we sailed on.”

Christopher Columbus

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- Gutenberg’s printing press -


before 1439 a bible, or any book for that matter wasn’t printed so much as crafted. the Mainz Bible is a typical example. It consisted of 459 vellum skins. each measured a grandiose 22” x 16”. typical of books before 1439, the Bible of Mainz took 15 months for one monk to create. more, it was created and intended for use by if not just one patron, a very limited audience, to say the least. knowledge was until that point far from shared. that was until Johannes Gutenberg created the mechanical moving type printing press.


“printing with moveable type revolutionized not only the book, but the very nature of communication in the western world,” as the Library of Congress puts it.

(source: InkArt)

texts once scare and complicated to produce subsequently flooded all corners of europe (and later the world).” the impact was tremendous and knowledge was available to a larger audience rather then the privileged few. “out of this explosion of text emerged the renaissance, the reformation, and the scientific revolution. Gutenberg’s invention made it possible for the accumulated knowledge of the human race to become the common property of every person… an immense forward step in the emancipation of the human mind.” (source: Library of Congress)


did Gutenberg have visions of changing western civilization forever? perhaps, but more likely, not. what he indisputably had was two things: useable and diverse knowledge and experience with looking at the world through seemingly unrelated, even incompatible lenses. Gutenberg was an inventor and tinker. his main profession was as a goldsmith. that profession gave him a keen understanding of metallurgy. turns out he also knew about winemaking and wine presses. and because he was a tinkerer, always looking for a new way to do and see, he was more open than most to weaving his disparate knowledge and lenses together. this is why even though the elements that made up the printing press had existed for decades and even centuries, it was not until Gutenberg combined differing views and knowledge together in unexpected intersections that western civilization was changed forever.

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