Gutenberg Pioneers the Printing Press (Chronology of European History)
Article abstract: Gutenberg pioneers the printing press, developing the technology of printing with movable metal type and ushering in a revolution in communications by making written materials more widely available at a lower cost.
Summary of Event
A concise, factual account of the invention of printing with movable type is not possible because surmises far outnumber facts. The few early printed works bearing dates and names are of little help in identifying early experimenters.
Wang Chieh used the first block print in China in 868; in the eleventh century his fellow countryman Pi Sheng arranged molded and baked clay characters on a frame for printing. Except in Arabic Spain, the West did not make paper until 1270, in Fabriano, Italy; Germany did not begin the process until the fourteenth century.
Between the painstaking copying of manuscripts by hand and the earliest printing with movable type which imitated their calligraphy, an intermediate process of “block books” or xylographica appeared. As early as 1418, pictures were carved in wood and printed in thin brownish ink on one side of a leaf. Later, descriptive text accompanied the picture, and printing was done on both sides of the paper in improved ink made of pine shavings and soot. Examples of block books are the Biblia pauperum (poor man’s Bible), the Apocalypse, and the Ars moriendi (the art of...
(The entire section is 1347 words.)
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