The Printing Press

The Printing Press

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Printing press

The Gutenberg Printing Press was invented by Johaness Gutenberg. Its purpose was to reduce the time it took to make a copy of a book, mainly the bible. The machine was a huge success because months of effort turned into a week's ask.

The Steam Printing Machine

The Steam Press was invented by Frederick Koenig, and its purpose was to increase the number of pages copied in a hour. The invention took two years to build but when it was finally made it was worth it. The press was able to print thousands of the pages a hour.

The Steam Press was invented by Frederick Koenig, and its purpose was to increase the number of pages copied in a hour. The invention took two years to build but when it was finally made it was worth it. The press was able to print thousands of the pages a hour.

The Steam Press was invented by Frederick Koenig, and its purpose was to increase the number of pages copied in a hour. The invention took two years to build but when it was finally made it was worth it. The press was able to print thousands of the pages a hour.

Stanhope Press

The Stanhope Press was invented by Earl Stanhope. Its goal was to see if a Printing press could be made from iron. The press worked and metals were used to make some printing presses come then on.

The Printing Press - HISTORY

The history of the printing press goes back to the 1400's when a man named Johannes Gutenberg, a German inventor created the first machine capable of printing books in mass quantities. The invention of the printing press was a major accomplishment. Before that time all manuscripts were produced and reproduced by hand. The Bible was the first mass produced book that Gutenberg undertook. Before that time a handwritten Bible could take as long as 20 plus years to reproduce if one person were working on it. By 1500 hundreds of printing presses existed in Europe. The invention of rolled paper allowed the presses to produce manuscripts and books much faster and in larger quantities. Today rotary machines can produce millions of copies per day if needed.

Gutenberg was skilled in the use of metals and oil based inks. The history of the printing press involves the determination of one man and how the creation of mass printing changed the world. Some sources compare this invention to be as important as the discoveries of writing and the Internet. The rise in communication caused historical developments in education, the creation of new occupations including writers and artists, development of scientific thought, increase of religious publications, and the knowledge of history. Now it is possible to read about people from other cultures and how they might have lived hundreds or thousands of years ago. Religious publications have led to the reformation of many denominational teachings and more understanding about different religions. Job in the Bible longed for His words to be in print. "Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth (Job 19:23-25).

Before the invention of the printing press books were usually too expensive to purchase except for the rich. After the invention books became cheaper so that more people could afford to purchase them. This led to the development of colleges and the need for more books. Scientists were able to readily communicate their findings leading to the creation of scholarly journals. Now we have online databases in online libraries that offer articles, essays, news, periodicals, and so other many types of publications at our fingertips. From the press to the Internet any person with Internet service and a computer can have access to an unlimited amount of information.

The history of the printing press led the way for literacy to increase. Before the capability existed, books could costs as much as a piece of land or more than a home. Even today, some books are worth thousands of dollars because of their popularity, their age or because of the way they were produced and the paper or parchment they were produced on. Some books are so rare because there are few in print, they were produced by hand, and for other reasons are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is the reason there are book collectors because some manuscripts are worth a great amount of money and some people consider them rare masterpieces and indeed they are.

As time went by more sophisticated machines were created. Friedrich Koenig created a machine that was operated with steam instead of man-powered in the 1800's. The invention of the printing press using steam led to faster and larger quantities of print which led to the capability of producing newspapers in mass quantities. Later the rotary press made it possible to produce millions of copies in one day. Rotary presses can cut, fold, and bind in a cover in one continuous process. The paper is on a roll and can print over 50,000 copies per hour and in color. The three main parts of a rotary machine include the paper roll, the printing plate, and the compression of the cylinders between the paper roll.

The invention of the printing press led to the creation of screen-printing, photocopying, laser printing, dot matrix, thermal, inkjet, digital, and 3D. This led to the capability of copying images and art. Today images and print appear on clothing, ceramics, glass, paper, metals, wood, polyethylene, CDs, DVDs, and so on. Photocopying was invented in the 1960's using a dry heat to create images on paper. Photocopying has been an important component of businesses, educational institutions, and government institutions. Could the creation of computers and digital document creation eventually make photocopiers obsolete? With the aid of a printer the user can print as many copies of a document as needed at any one time. However, some companies today are still using large industrial photocopiers to mass produce documents that go out to their stores and customers.

The history of the printing press is an important part of the history of literacy and largely responsible for the inevitable spread of knowledge. With the capability of mass producing books and manuscripts people were able to put their knowledge down and supply it to those who needed it. Some of this is seen in instruction manuals on every subject imaginable. Today, we are living in the Information age, as the printing press contributed to that now the Internet is continuing to bring us information about anything we can imagine. The Internet makes it possible to not only learn about anything desired but allows a person to connect with anyone in the world who has a website address or email, in a chat room or through instant messaging.

Book Printing

Book printing can be a very important part of the process that an individual takes in getting published. The process of self-publishing can be a difficult process, but it is something that many people must do to get their work out into public view before finding a publishing company that will offer to sell their current and future works. For the individual who does not have a publisher, finding book printers that will print products at a relatively low cost can be a good way to self-publish work and get it out for readers to find and enjoy. With this process, locating an appropriate firm will be one of the most difficult tasks. This can take some time and attention on the part of the author. After locating several to choose from, the cost is going to be an important factor to consider. Companies off many different price ranges for printing materials.

Finding a company can be a very difficult task, not to be taken lightly by the author. For someone with a love for writing and books, the technical aspects of the process can be just as important as the creative part. Authors should look for a company that offers many options for typesetting, book covers, and page count. Before beginning the search for a company, an individual should create a list of guidelines for what he is looking for in his end product. This list should include items such as quality work, the need for pictures or images within the book if necessary, the choice of both color and black and white print. Writing up some specifications about what he wants will serve as a good guideline for selecting a book printing company that provides the services he needs.

Actually locating and pursuing book printers should be done after this set of guidelines has been prepared by the author. Searching online can be a good start to finding a place that is familiar with the area of expertise of the author. Different companies print different works. A few companies will print anything or everything, while others will limit what they print. For example, a company may only want to accept children's books or recipe books or scientific manuals. Also, Christian firms may only offer services for Christian authors or products with positive messages that go along with Christian teachings. Other specialty printers will also exist for different themes, formats, and material, such as gift books or romances. If an online search does not offer help, visiting a local library or bookstore may be helpful. Several resources offer assistance in getting published through many companies. These books even go as far as giving mail addresses, contact numbers, email addresses, and other contact information for communicating with publishing companies.

The cost of book printing can be something that causes problems for some authors. Many book printers will charge a large fee for their services. This high price often comes from the cost of materials and supplies and in the processes that are used in putting out the products. Does the author need a cover artist? How much editing does the material require? Through various searches and sources that offer results on printing services, individuals can compare prices. Many printers will charge between two and five dollars for printing each book. The price is reduced when higher quantities are ordered for printing. It is much easier to receive a good price on bulk printing because the materials and supplies that are going to be used will already be in place and the company can get a better bargain on paper and other supplies. Other aspects of printing will add to the cost of printing also. Choosing color over black and white print will often mean additional costs. More pictures may also mean higher prices because of the color and graphics that are required.

To start the process of looking for a reputable firm, the author should make a list of what he needs for the type of product he has in mind. This will include the ability to print items like color text or pictures. Using online resources of those from the library or a bookstore can be helpful. The process of getting a book printed can be long, difficult, and expensive, but will often be worth the effort. Knowledge is an important aspect of our lives as believers. First Samuel 2:3 says, "The Lord is a God of knowledge." How privileged we are to share with Him in some of the knowledge He has given us! Using book printing and book printers can be part of our ministry to others. We can share the knowledge and expertise that God has allowed us to learn through life's experiences and through His Word as we walk with Him along our Christian pathway.

The Invention of the Printing Press

During the 1430s, English text had to be written by hand, which was prone to many mistakes. The growing literacy, especially in the middle class, prompted the people to clamor for books, which are reserved only to the elite.

Stumped by debt from a previous financial mishap, Johannes Gutenberg worked on developing the printing press. He recognized the demand for books and how lucrative it would be for him to mass produce a cheap product. Drawing inspiration from the movable types of East Asia and the screw type press of farmers in Europe, Gutenberg invented his famous printing press.

Gutenberg’s original printing press design.

Gutenberg’s major contribution was the letter molds. Using his knowledge of goldsmithing and metallurgy from his early years, he used metal alloy to create durable types. He also modified an existing oil-based ink for use in his press.

The new system of printing developed was still tedious. However, it was simple and the most efficient system during that time. Arranging the letters in a type tray took a full day for a single page of text, but the durability of the letters and the tray itself provided for a more cost-saving approach to mass production.

One of the hallmarks of Gutenberg’s printing press was the printing of the Vulgate version of the Christian Bible in 1455. By this time, the Catholic Church had been the most lucrative partner of Gutenberg, with the printing of thousands of indulgences for its members.

Unfortunately, when the first finished copies of the Gutenberg Bible were sold, Gutenberg no longer had the rights to it, as well as his operation. He was sued by his financier and partner, Johann Fust. Gutenberg went back to his hometown in Germany and carried out his printing activities there. He died poor in 1468.

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The Press at War, From Vietnam to Iraq

Eisenstein described much of this in her writings. Her larger point is that the world was never the same again. As she explained to me, we no longer register the impact of the printing press because we have no easy way to retrieve the ambient sensation of “before,” just as we can’t retrieve, and can barely imagine, what life was like when only scattered licks of flame could pierce the darkness of night. At first glance, printing seems like just a more efficient way of doing what people were doing anyway: making words and images available to others. But it was a revolution—many revolutions, really, most of them unforeseeable. Consider what it meant to own books personally and read them silently, rather than having to hear words read aloud: No one knew what you were up to in the privacy of your home. Writers and publishers wanted some degree of ownership—­hence the new concepts of copyright and intellectual property. More books and rising literacy created an eyeglass industry, which in turn brought advances in lens-making, which ultimately made possible the telescope and spelled the end of biblical cosmology. The printing press transformed religion, science, politics it put information, misinformation, and power in the hands of more people than ever before it created a celebrity culture as poets and polemicists vied for fame and it loosened the restraints of authority and hierarchy, setting groups against one another. This shattered the status quo in ways that proved liberating but also lethal: If the printing press deserves some of the credit for democracy and the Enlightenment, it also deserves some of the blame for chaos and slaughter. As Edward Snowden observes in his new book, Permanent Record: “Technology doesn’t have a Hippocratic oath.”

Drawing technological parallels is a dicey enterprise. It requires ample use of that said, to be sure, and as it were. And Eisenstein wasn’t harping on parallels. She wrote her books (and spoke with me) before Facebook and Twitter before Russian hacking, Alex Jones, and Stuxnet. She had an eye on the internet but admitted that, when she first published her book on the printing press, the ascendant technology that drew her attention was the photocopier. She described a Xerox commercial from the late 1970s featuring a weary scribe named Brother Dominic, who is tasked with making 500 copies of an illuminated manuscript. He turns for salvation to a copying machine. “It’s a miracle,” his superior says, casting his eyes heavenward, when Dominic returns shortly with perfect duplicates.

That said, drawing parallels is hard to resist. The Rand Corporation published an early paper about the printing press and the internet in 1998, when the public version of what was then called the “information superhighway” was only a few years old, and only about 20 million computers worldwide were linked to it. The study, by James Dewar, took note of several developments that “we are already seeing”—spam, trolls, viruses, and a variety of scams (like those get-rich schemes emanating from Nigeria)—and warned of a “dark side.” Dewar made a crucial distinction: between technologies, such as knives and microwave ovens, whose intended consequences far outweigh the un­intended ones, and tech­nologies, such as cars and air-conditioning, whose unintended consequences dwarf the intended ones. The study’s main message was that the internet, which originated as a form of military communication, was technology of the second kind. Its consequences would be “dominated” by the unforeseeable and the uncontrollable.

By a factor of about a zillion, more has been written about what the internet may have in store for us than about the wide-ranging effects of the printing press. We’re all aware of the digital utopians and dystopians, the prophets and fantasists. Experts issue warnings. Regulators advance reforms. Right now we’re in a doom phase: The internet threatens everything from jobs to privacy to free will. We should indeed be thinking about these things. A swelling legion of academic centers and private think tanks does nothing but. Novels such as Tim Maughan’s Infinite Detail and Robert Harris’s The Second Sleep stir the imagination. But as the example of Gutenberg’s invention suggests, it’s easy to forget how unforeseeable (and never-ending) the “unforeseeable” really is. When it comes to those who make predictions about the internet, the judgment of history is unlikely to be: They got it right.

Once, after listening to Betty Eisenstein lay out the wide array of unintended consequences of the printing press, whether mind-altering in a positive or catastrophic way, I made a remark along the lines of “And it took a mere 500 years for things to settle down.” She said, “Have they?”

This article appears in the January/February 2020 print edition with the headline “Before Zuckerberg, Gutenberg.”

Did You Know. Fascinating Printing Facts

Perhaps not questions that will come up the next time you play "Trivial Pursuit," but here are some interesting and unusual printing-related historical facts that demonstrate just how an important and transformative role printing has played throughout the ages.

Did you know. Johannes Gutenberg died a poor man? He was sued by his wealthy business partners in 1455 and lost the lawsuit, which resulted in the iconic printer being forced to give up his printing business and, ultimately, into financial ruin, before his death in 1468.

Did you know. Gutenberg printed more than 150 copies of the Bible, but the whereabouts of only 49 are known today?

Did you know. Ben was not the first printer in the Franklin family? When Ben was only a teenager, his older brother was publishing the New England Courant . However, by age 22, Franklin was in business for himself, printing the Pennsylvania Gazette .

His printing company was also contracted to print all paper currency for Pennsylvania and Delaware, as well as documents from the Pennsylvania Assembly, where Franklin was an elected clerk. Franklin was eventually appointed Postmaster of Philadelphia, which resulted in greatly increasing the circulation of his newspaper.

Did you know. Even though "America's printer" Ben Franklin was a successful businessman and renowned inventor, he was in substantial debt most of his life? Although not widely known, Franklin was often reckless in his business ventures, while spending large sums of money to support his statesmen reputation and lifestyle, and fund his global travel and adventures.

Did you know. The world's smallest printed book (according to the "Guinness World Book of Records") is a 22-page Japanese picture book, containing mostly flowers, that measures 0.0291x0.0295˝? A magnifying glass is necessary to see the images.

Did you know. The largest catalog printed was more than 2.5˝ thick? In January 2005, Aviall Services released its "Product and Catalog Book," which contains 2,656 pages and weighs 7.4 lbs.

Why The Printing Press Appeared in the Middle East 400 Years After Europe

Why were there no printing presses in the Middle East until four centuries after Europe? Did it have to do with Islam prohibiting this technology? Was the calligraphy lobby too strong? Or is the answer more complicated?

The global spread of the printing press began with the invention of movable type by Johannes Gutenberg in 1439. A few decades later there were millions of books in Europe. But there were few printing presses in the Ottoman Empire until the 1800s. Some historians say this has to do with lack of interest and religious reasons were among the reasons for the slow adoption of the printing press outside Europe. The story goes that the printing of Arabic, after encountering strong opposition by Muslim legal scholars and the manuscript scribes, remained prohibited in the Ottoman empire between 1483 and 1729, initially even on penalty of death.

However, we will see in this episode that scholars and sultans had no problems with the printing press. The real reason for the printing press’s slow spread was twofold: First, the thousands of calligraphers made hand-copied books so cheap that printing presses were not needed. Second, Arabic letters are more difficult to render than Latin ones, meaning that the printing press had to become more technologically advanced before it could cheaply and easily churn out Arabic, Turkish, and Persian texts.

Automation of composition (after 1929)

The search for maximum efficiency had from the very beginning posed the problem of both the mechanization and the automation of composition. The Monotype system, with its separation of keyboard and caster, had constituted one approach to the solution, since the same caster could work at full speed when fed with perforated tapes produced on several keyboards.

The perfection of teletypesetter remote-control composing equipment in the United States by about 1929 permitted widespread application of the principle of separation of human function on the one hand and mechanized function on the other. The operator produces a tape on which each letter, symbol, and space is represented by a combination of perforations. A translator device reads the tape and, according to each combination of holes, orders the release of the necessary matrices for letters, signs, and justifying spaces. Machines casting one-piece fully spaced lines or slugs are able to produce more than 20,000 characters per hour.

Beyond Gutenberg

From Germany, it did not take long for the printing press to spread across Europe. In 1476, William Caxton printed the first books in England using a printing press. This was made possible by learning this technology while he was on the European continent. Since the printing press originated in Germany, the typefaces or letter styles which are known today as fonts, were Germanic in style. As printing spread elsewhere, typefaces were changed to suit local tastes. Caxton initially used the Batarde type but was soon abandoned in favor of something locals liked. Roman types were introduced in Italy, and the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal).

As far as Europe as concerned, the printing press was more than just a new technology of the time, it was a game-changer in the sense it contributed to a form of revolution that swept the Continent. This was evident in the Renaissance, Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution. Furthermore, as evidenced by the use of the printing press across Europe, Latin was slowly giving way to the vernacular. This underscored the decline of the powers of the Catholic Church and empowered European states who were beginning to discover their own identity.

Publishing Shakespeare: a history of the printing press

Everything you need to know about the emergence of the printing press, and how its existence allowed Shakespeare’s words to live on.

Shakespeare wrote some of the greatest plays in the English language, invented a slew of words and phrases used to this day, and is so revered that Shakespeare’s Globe built a replica of the theatre that he wrote for on Bankside. We know all of this already, but how did his works survive from the rough-and-tumble world of Elizabeth and Jacobean theatre, through to the present day?

In a societ y where we can message our friends instantly through the digital webisphere, it’s easy to forget that the world was not always a place in which you could backup your drafts to the cloud or e-publish online. Even paper was once an expensive commodity, few people could write, and even fewer could afford to buy books. So, how did we come to love this person named Shakespeare, who had no access to any digital commodities?

Before the printing press became widespread across Europe, books were produced as manuscripts. These were hand-written books, largely produced by scribes, monks and other church officials, and were valuable possessions, made of expensive materials, and individually commissioned by a lord or noble. It was a painstaking, time-consuming process that could only be undertaken by a skilled scribe, and there could therefore be differences between individual books. Books were rare, expensive, and mostly written in Vulgate Latin, a semi-extinct language that only the elite could read.

So, when a German goldsmith named Johannes Gutenberg began producing books with his new invention, the printing press, in the mid-15th century, books started to become more accessible and a potentially profitable commodity to produce and sell. One machine and a dozen skilled artisans could churn out hundreds of books in a given period, instead of the ‘one-monk one-book’ production model of old, and it suddenly became possible for more people to buy books and for more types of books to be commonly published and sold. Only classical literature (Greek and Latin) and religious works were really thought of as worth putting in a book in the past, but the printing press unfurled the possibility of people buying, for instance, plays written in English.

And yet. The Renaissance, the period of time in which medieval ways of thinking were being challenged, Classical Greek and Roman texts from pre-Christian Europe were being re-discovered, and native languages and nationalities were becoming more influential than the Roman Catholic church, did not happen all at once: although it’s generally thought of as beginning in Florence, Italy, in the late 14th century, England only really caught up more than a hundred years later. Although Gutenberg was printing bibles from about 1450, more than a century before Shakespeare’s birth in 1564, it was only 25 years earlier, in 1539, that the ‘Great Bible’, the first legally-sanctioned English-language Bible, had been commissioned by Henry VIII, and was printed in the thousands, across many editions.

However, Shakespeare’s writing would not be printed in the same way as a book so important as the bible was. Plays were not considered to be important works of literature, and plots were largely constructed by the actors and written out in a ‘fair copy’ for their records by the company scribes, and new plays were churned out at an incredibly fast rate to provide the companies with enough material to keep performing new shows all the time it was a little like writing for a sitcom or a soap opera in the modern day, and once a play was performed the acting companies would only keep the scripts if they felt they might revive them again down the road, and if not might sell them off to a publishing house, who would try and make a quick profit on them.

By Shakespeare’s time, printing was more common, and book publishing was more of a commercial enterprise. But Shakespeare’s plays were not published all together in his own lifetime.

The concept of intellectual copyright did not exist in this era: publishers did not pay for the right to print Shakespeare’s ideas, they paid for the physical copy of his writings, and sometimes they bought those not from the writer directly, but from actors who had been in the plays or merely from audience members who reckoned they could remember the play. As such, there could be multiple versions of one play by one author circulating at the same time, independent of the will of the author, and so it’s difficult to know for sure which versions represent Shakespeare’s ‘original’ writing, but scholars give some the name of ‘good quarto’ or ‘bad quarto’, depending on how likely they think the text is to be accurate, and ‘quarto’, like ‘folio’, being a book format of the time. This was true of Shakespeare’s poetry as well: even in an era when printing was becoming ever more widespread, educated persons interested in the work of a good author were still circulating hand-written copies of ‘The Rape of Lucrece’, in ‘commonplace books’, a sort of Elizabethan Tumblr or Pinterest, sharing them with their friends at court and making their own personal additions.

It’s for these reasons that there are multiple versions of some of Shakespeare’s plays, and there are some plays we know of, because people at the time write letters mentioning them, but we don’t have a copy of the play itself. In some cases later writers and publishers re-wrote Shakespeare’s plays, or combined versions, or ‘smoothed over’ details that they thought didn’t make sense, and then published that version, as if it were the only version that mattered.

After Shakespeare died, John Heminges and Henry Condell, fellow actors in the Kings Men, began collecting together the various published versions of Shakespeare’s plays, actors scripts, and scribal copies, and edited them together into the First Folio, published in 1623. Ben Jonson, a fellow playwright, whose own works had been published in one collection in 1616, the same year as Shakespeare’s death, wrote two elegiac poems for his sometimes-rival at the beginning of the book, but the whole project itself was perhaps an attempt to eulogize Shakespeare and make his work last forever. It’s partly these reasons that allowed his writings to become part of the fabric of English culture and language, because his works have been read and circulated endlessly and have had a life of their own, though Shakespeare himself is long dead.

Few copies of the First Folio still exist, and were numbered up to 232. Two years ago the St-Omer First Folio was loaned to us this was a previously unknown copy, kept in a public library in northern France, and re-discovered in 2014, making it the 233rd copy known to exist two more have since been found, bringing the total number up to 235, out of approximately 750 copies that are thought to originally have been printed.

You can learn much more about the printing press at the Shakespeare’s Globe Exhibition. These regular tours offer visitors access to a working replica of a printing press from Shakespeare’s era via a live demonstration (pictured).

Words: Joshua Adcock, Shakespeare’s Globe
Photos: Pete Le May
Pictured: Allie Croker

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