How did the printing press impact exploration?

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg was a major technological breakthrough. Prior to Gutenberg's press, books were copied out by hand, generally by members of the church, and so news was slow to travel. This invention coincided with the European Age of Exploration, during which European ships traversed the globe in search of new trading opportunities and new adventures. Thanks to Gutenberg's press, information about these explorations and about the men who travelled to far-away lands now spread across Europe quickly and accurately. This also encouraged a growth in literacy and in book-reading more generally, as people wanted to learn more about these exciting new ventures.

The printing press also encouraged another major development which impacted on exploration: more and more scientific books were published which enabled scientists across Europe to share their research and interests. For the first time, the problems encountered by explorers, like navigation and map-making, were brought into the public domain and could be worked on and developed as they occurred. This would eventually lead to the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment - neither of which have happened without Gutenberg's Press.  

thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg helped bring about the period of mass communication. Revolutionary ideas were spread much faster, and people were getting more enlightened, resulting in challenges to the status quo. Scientists, inventors, explorers, and tradesmen were accorded an opportunity to communicate effectively and share ideas, which served to heighten their curiosity and pursuit of discovery.

Thus, during the period of exploration, the printing press helped in the mass production of information recorded by explorers. The information was then widely shared not only with the general populace, but also with other explorers. The spread of this information generated support for exploration among the public and also provided scientists and inventors with opportunities to improve on systems and tools used in exploration.

Additionally, the printing press enabled the wide sharing of information with regards to challenges facing exploration and explorers, which helped in developing solutions to address those challenges, especially with regards to navigation.

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