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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.
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