Printing press

Printing press

Overview

A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an ink
Ink
Ink is a liquid or paste that contains pigments and/or dyes and is used to color a surface to produce an image, text, or design. Ink is used for drawing and/or writing with a pen, brush, or quill...

ed surface resting upon a print
Printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

 medium (such as paper or cloth), thereby transferring the ink. Typically used for texts, the invention and spread of the printing press are widely regarded as the most influential events in the second millennium AD, revolutionizing the way people conceive and describe the world they live in, and ushering in the period of modernity.

The printing press was invented in the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 by the German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 Johannes Gutenberg around 1440, based on existing screw press
Screw press
A screw press is a type of machine press in which the ram is driven up and down by a screw. The screw shaft can be driven by a handle, or a wheel. It works by using a coarse screw to convert the rotation of the handle or drive-wheel into a small downward movement of greater force. The overhead...

es.
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A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an ink
Ink
Ink is a liquid or paste that contains pigments and/or dyes and is used to color a surface to produce an image, text, or design. Ink is used for drawing and/or writing with a pen, brush, or quill...

ed surface resting upon a print
Printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

 medium (such as paper or cloth), thereby transferring the ink. Typically used for texts, the invention and spread of the printing press are widely regarded as the most influential events in the second millennium AD, revolutionizing the way people conceive and describe the world they live in, and ushering in the period of modernity.

The printing press was invented in the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 by the German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 Johannes Gutenberg around 1440, based on existing screw press
Screw press
A screw press is a type of machine press in which the ram is driven up and down by a screw. The screw shaft can be driven by a handle, or a wheel. It works by using a coarse screw to convert the rotation of the handle or drive-wheel into a small downward movement of greater force. The overhead...

es. Gutenberg, a goldsmith
Goldsmith
A goldsmith is a metalworker who specializes in working with gold and other precious metals. Since ancient times the techniques of a goldsmith have evolved very little in order to produce items of jewelry of quality standards. In modern times actual goldsmiths are rare...

 by profession, developed a complete printing system, which perfected the printing process through all its stages by adapting existing technologies to printing purposes, as well as making groundbreaking inventions of his own. His newly devised hand mould
Matrix (printing)
In hot metal typesetting, a matrix is a mold for casting a letter, known as a sort, used in letterpress printing....

 made for the first time possible the precise and rapid creation of metal movable type
Movable type
Movable type is the system of printing and typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document ....

 in large quantities, a key element in the profitability of the whole printing enterprise.

The mechanization of bookmaking led to the first mass production of books in history in assembly line
Assembly line
An assembly line is a manufacturing process in which parts are added to a product in a sequential manner using optimally planned logistics to create a finished product much faster than with handcrafting-type methods...

-style. A single Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 printing press could produce 3,600 pages per workday, compared to forty by typographic hand-printing
History of typography in East Asia
The history of printing in East Asia refers to the use of woodblock printing and movable type printing by East Asian artisans. The former existed in Tang China as early as the 7th century, and the latter in Song China by the 11th century. Use of woodblock printing quickly spread to other East Asian...

 and a few by hand-copying
Scribe
A scribe is a person who writes books or documents by hand as a profession and helps the city keep track of its records. The profession, previously found in all literate cultures in some form, lost most of its importance and status with the advent of printing...

. Books of bestselling authors like Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 or Erasmus were sold by the hundreds of thousands in their lifetime.

From a single point of origin, Mainz
Mainz
Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, printing spread within several decades to over two hundred cities in a dozen European countries. By 1500, printing presses in operation throughout Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 had already produced more than twenty million volumes. In the 16th century, with presses spreading further afield, their output rose tenfold to an estimated 150 to 200 million copies. The operation of a press became so synonymous with the enterprise of printing that it lent its name to an entire new branch of media, the press
Newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

. As early as 1620, the English statesman and philosopher Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Albans, KC was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, author and pioneer of the scientific method. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England...

 could write that typographical printing has "changed the whole face and state of things throughout the world".

From its beginnings, printing was practiced also as a true art form, setting a high aesthetic and artistic standard, such as in the famous 42-line Bible. Today, incunables are among the most prized possessions of modern libraries.

The unprecedented impact of Gutenberg-style printing on the long-term development of modern European and then world history is difficult to capture in its entirety. Attempts at analysing its manifold effects include the notion of a proper Printing Revolution and the creation of the Gutenberg Galaxy. The ready availability and affordability of the printed word to the general public boosted the democratization of knowledge
Democratization of knowledge
The democratization of knowledge is the acquisition and spread of knowledge amongst the common people, not just privileged elites such as priests and academics.-History:The printing press was one of the early steps towards the democratization of knowledge....

 and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy.

In Renaissance Europe, the arrival of mechanical movable type printing introduced the era of mass communication
Mass communication
Mass communication is the term used to describe the academic study of the various means by which individuals and entities relay information through mass media to large segments of the population at the same time...

 which permanently altered the structure of society: The relatively unrestricted circulation of information and (revolutionary) ideas transcended borders, captured the masses in the Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 and threatened the power of political and religious authorities; the sharp increase in literacy
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

 broke the monopoly of the literate elite on education and learning and bolstered the emerging middle class
Middle class
The middle class is any class of people in the middle of a societal hierarchy. In Weberian socio-economic terms, the middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class....

. Across Europe, the increasing cultural self-awareness of its peoples led to the rise of proto-nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

, accelerated by the flowering of the European vernacular languages to the detriment of Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

's status as lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

.

In the 19th century, the replacement of the hand-operated Gutenberg-style press by steam-powered rotary presses allowed printing on an industrial
Industrial Age
Industrial Age may refer to:*Industrialisation*The Industrial Revolution...

 scale, while Western-style printing was adopted all over the world, becoming practically the sole medium for modern bulk printing.

Economic conditions and intellectual climate



The rapid economic and socio-cultural development of late medieval society
Late Middle Ages
The Late Middle Ages was the period of European history generally comprising the 14th to the 16th century . The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern era ....

 in Europe created favorable intellectual and technological conditions for Gutenberg's invention: the entrepreneurial spirit of emerging capitalism
History of capitalism
The history of capitalism can be traced back to early forms of merchant capitalism practiced in Western Europe during the Middle Ages, though many economic historians consider the Netherlands as the first thoroughly capitalist country. In Early modern Europe it featured the wealthiest trading city ...

 increasingly made its impact on medieval modes of production, fostering economic thinking and improving the efficiency of traditional work-processes. The sharp rise of medieval learning
Medieval university
Medieval university is an institution of higher learning which was established during High Middle Ages period and is a corporation.The first institutions generally considered to be universities were established in Italy, France, and England in the late 11th and the 12th centuries for the study of...

 and literacy amongst the middle class
Middle class
The middle class is any class of people in the middle of a societal hierarchy. In Weberian socio-economic terms, the middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class....

 led to an increased demand for books which the time-consuming hand-copying method fell far short of accommodating.

Technological factors


At the same time, a number of medieval products and technological processes had reached a level of maturity which allowed their potential use for printing purposes. Gutenberg took up these far-flung strands, combined them into one complete and functioning system, and perfected the printing process through all its stages by adding a number of inventions and innovations of his own:
The screw press
Screw press
A screw press is a type of machine press in which the ram is driven up and down by a screw. The screw shaft can be driven by a handle, or a wheel. It works by using a coarse screw to convert the rotation of the handle or drive-wheel into a small downward movement of greater force. The overhead...

 which allowed direct pressure to be applied on flat-plane was already of great antiquity in Gutenberg's time and was used for a wide range of tasks. Introduced in the 1st century AD by the Romans
Roman agriculture
Agriculture in ancient Rome was not only a necessity, but was idealized among the social elite as a way of life. Cicero considered farming the best of all Roman occupations...

, it was commonly employed in agricultural production for pressing wine grapes
Vitis vinifera
Vitis vinifera is a species of Vitis, native to the Mediterranean region, central Europe, and southwestern Asia, from Morocco and Portugal north to southern Germany and east to northern Iran....

 and (olive
Olive
The olive , Olea europaea), is a species of a small tree in the family Oleaceae, native to the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean Basin as well as northern Iran at the south end of the Caspian Sea.Its fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the...

) oil seeds, both of which formed an integral part of the mediterranean and medieval diet. The device was also used from very early on in urban contexts as a cloth press for printing patterns. Gutenberg may have also been inspired by the paper
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

 presses which had spread through the German lands
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 since the late 14th century and which worked on the same mechanical principles.

Gutenberg adopted the basic design, thereby mechanizing the printing process. Printing, however, put a demand on the machine quite different from pressing. Gutenberg adapted the construction so that the pressing power exerted by the platen
Platen
A platen is typically a flat metal plate pressed against a medium to cause an impression in letterpress printing...

 on the paper was now applied both evenly and with the required sudden elasticity. To speed up the printing process, he introduced a movable undertable with a plane surface on which the sheets could be swiftly changed.

The concept of movable type was not entirely new in the 15th century; sporadic evidence that the typographical principle, the idea of creating a text by reusing individual characters, was well understood and employed in pre-Gutenberg Europe had been cropping up since the 12th century and possibly before. The known examples range from Germany (Prüfening inscription
Prüfening dedicatory inscription
The Prüfening dedicatory inscription is a high medieval inscription which was created in 1119, over three hundred years before Johannes Gutenberg, by the typographic principle...

) to England (letter tiles) to Italy. However, the various techniques employed (imprinting, punching and assembling individual letters) did not have the refinement and efficiency needed to become widely accepted.

Gutenberg greatly improved the process by treating typesetting
Typesetting
Typesetting is the composition of text by means of types.Typesetting requires the prior process of designing a font and storing it in some manner...

 and printing
Printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

 as two separate work steps. A goldsmith by profession, he created his type pieces from a lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

-based alloy
Alloy
An alloy is a mixture or metallic solid solution composed of two or more elements. Complete solid solution alloys give single solid phase microstructure, while partial solutions give two or more phases that may or may not be homogeneous in distribution, depending on thermal history...

 which suited printing purposes so well that it is still used today. The mass production of metal letters was achieved by his key invention of a special hand mould
Hand mould
A hand mould is a simple mould used for low quantity work. It is used in the injection moulding and the printing industry.-Printing:In the printing industry, a hand mould specifically refers to a two-part mould used for casting hand-made type...

, the matrix
Matrix (printing)
In hot metal typesetting, a matrix is a mold for casting a letter, known as a sort, used in letterpress printing....

. The Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

 proved to be an enormous advantage in the process because, in contrast to logographic writing systems
Logogram
A logogram, or logograph, is a grapheme which represents a word or a morpheme . This stands in contrast to phonograms, which represent phonemes or combinations of phonemes, and determinatives, which mark semantic categories.Logograms are often commonly known also as "ideograms"...

, it allowed the type-setter to represent any text with a theoretical minimum of only around two dozen different letters
Letter (alphabet)
A letter is a grapheme in an alphabetic system of writing, such as the Greek alphabet and its descendants. Letters compose phonemes and each phoneme represents a phone in the spoken form of the language....

.

Another factor conducive to printing arose from the book existing in the format of the codex
Codex
A codex is a book in the format used for modern books, with multiple quires or gatherings typically bound together and given a cover.Developed by the Romans from wooden writing tablets, its gradual replacement...

, which had originated in the Roman period
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. Considered the most important advance in the history of the book prior to printing itself, the codex had completely replaced the ancient
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 scroll
Scroll
A scroll is a roll of parchment, papyrus, or paper, which has been drawn or written upon.Scroll may also refer to:*Scroll , the decoratively curved end of the pegbox of string instruments such as violins...

 at the onset of the Middle Ages (500 AD). The codex holds considerable practical advantages over the scroll format; it is more convenient to read (by turning pages), is more compact, less costly, and, in particular, unlike the scroll, both recto and verso could be used for writing − and printing.
A fourth development was the early success of medieval papermakers at mechanizing paper
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

 manufacture. The introduction of water-powered paper mill
Paper mill
A paper mill is a factory devoted to making paper from vegetable fibres such as wood pulp, old rags and other ingredients using a Fourdrinier machine or other type of paper machine.- History :...

s, the first certain evidence of which dates to 1282, allowed for a massive expansion of production and replaced the laborious handcraft characteristic of both Chinese and Muslim papermaking. Papermaking centres began to multiply in the late 13th century in Italy, reducing the price of paper to one sixth of parchment
Parchment
Parchment is a thin material made from calfskin, sheepskin or goatskin, often split. Its most common use was as a material for writing on, for documents, notes, or the pages of a book, codex or manuscript. It is distinct from leather in that parchment is limed but not tanned; therefore, it is very...

 and then falling further; papermaking centers reached Germany a century later.

Despite this it appears that the final breakthrough of paper depended just as much on the rapid spread of movable-type printing. It is notable that codices of parchment, which in terms of quality is superior to any other writing material, still had a substantial share in Gutenberg's edition of the 42-line Bible. After much experimentation, Gutenberg managed to overcome the difficulties which traditional water-based inks caused by soaking the paper, and found the formula for an oil-based ink suitable for high-quality printing with metal type.

How a printing press works


A printing press, in its classical form, is a standing mechanism, ranging from 5 to 7 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 7 feet tall. Type arranged into pages is placed in a frame to make a forme
Forme
Forme is a settlement in the Škofja Loka municipality in the Upper Carniola region of Slovenia.- External links :*...

, which itself is placed onto a flat stone or 'bed'. The type is inked, and the paper is held between a frisket
Frisket
A frisket is any material that protects areas of a work from unintended change.-Letterpress:On a sheet-fed letterpress printing machine, a frisket is a sheet of oiled paper that covers the space between the type or cuts and the edge of the paper that is to be printed...

 and tympan
Tympan
In hand-operated letterpress printing, the bruzer tympan is the taut cloth or paper mounted in a frame which is placed over the sheet of paper immediately prior to lowering the platen to make the impression....

 (two frames covered with paper or parchment). These are folded down, so that the paper lies on the surface of the inked type. The bed is rolled under the platen
Platen
A platen is typically a flat metal plate pressed against a medium to cause an impression in letterpress printing...

, using a windlass mechanism, and the impression is made with a screw that transmits pressure through the platen. Then the screw is reversed, the windlass turned again to move the bed back to its original position, the tympan and frisket raised and opened, and the printed sheet removed. Such presses were always worked by hand. After around 1800, iron presses were developed, some of which could be operated by steam power.

Gutenberg's press



Johannes Gutenberg's work on the printing press began in approximately 1436 when he partnered with Andreas Dritzehn—a man he had previously instructed in gem-cutting—and Andreas Heilmann, owner of a paper mill. However, it was not until a 1439 lawsuit
Lawsuit
A lawsuit or "suit in law" is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint...

 against Gutenberg that an official record exists; witnesses' testimony discussed Gutenberg's types, an inventory of metals (including lead), and his type molds.

Having previously worked as a professional goldsmith, Gutenberg made skillful use of the knowledge of metals he had learned as a craftsman. He was the first to make type from an alloy
Alloy
An alloy is a mixture or metallic solid solution composed of two or more elements. Complete solid solution alloys give single solid phase microstructure, while partial solutions give two or more phases that may or may not be homogeneous in distribution, depending on thermal history...

 of lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

, tin
Tin
Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4...

, and antimony
Antimony
Antimony is a toxic chemical element with the symbol Sb and an atomic number of 51. A lustrous grey metalloid, it is found in nature mainly as the sulfide mineral stibnite...

, which was critical for producing durable type that produced high-quality printed books and proved to be much better suited for printing than all other known materials. To create these lead types, Gutenberg used what is considered one of his most ingenious inventions, a special matrix
Matrix (printing)
In hot metal typesetting, a matrix is a mold for casting a letter, known as a sort, used in letterpress printing....

 enabling the quick and precise molding of new type blocks from a uniform template. His type case
Type case
A type case is a compartmentalized wooden box used to store movable type used in letterpress printing....

 is estimated to have contained around 290 separate letter boxes, most of which were required for special characters, ligatures, punctuation marks, etc.

Gutenberg is also credited with the introduction of an oil-based ink
Ink
Ink is a liquid or paste that contains pigments and/or dyes and is used to color a surface to produce an image, text, or design. Ink is used for drawing and/or writing with a pen, brush, or quill...

 which was more durable than the previously used water-based inks. As printing material he used both paper and vellum
Vellum
Vellum is mammal skin prepared for writing or printing on, to produce single pages, scrolls, codices or books. It is generally smooth and durable, although there are great variations depending on preparation, the quality of the skin and the type of animal used...

 (high-quality parchment).

In the Gutenberg Bible
Gutenberg Bible
The Gutenberg Bible was the first major book printed with a movable type printing press, and marked the start of the "Gutenberg Revolution" and the age of the printed book. Widely praised for its high aesthetic and artistic qualities, the book has an iconic status...

, Gutenberg made a trial of coloured printing for a few of the page headings, present only in some copies. A later work, the Mainz Psalter
Mainz Psalter
The Mainz Psalter is the earliest dated example of printed matter issuing from the new moveable-print technology of Johannes Gutenberg. It was a psalter ordered by the Mainz archbishop in AD 1457. It combines printed text with two-color woodcuts...

 of 1453, presumably designed by Gutenberg but published under the imprint of his successors Johann Fust
Johann Fust
Johann Fust was an early German printer.- Family background :Fust belonged to a rich and respectable burgher family of Mainz, traceable back to the early thirteenth-century; members of the family held many civil and religious offices.The name was always written Fust, but in 1506 Peter Schöffer, in...

 and Peter Schöffer
Peter Schöffer
Peter Schöffer or Petrus Schoeffer was an early German printer, who studied in Paris and worked as a manuscript copyist in 1451 before apprenticing with Johannes Gutenberg and joining Johann Fust, a goldsmith, lawyer, and money lender.-Life and works:Working for Fust, Schöffer was the principal...

, had elaborate red and blue printed initials.

The Printing Revolution


The phenomenon of the Printing Revolution can be approached from a quantitative perspective which has its focus on the printing output and the spread of the related technology. It can also be analysed in terms of how the wide circulation of information and ideas acted as an "agent of change" (Eisenstein) in Europe and global society in general.

Mass production and spread of printed books


The invention of mechanical movable type printing led to an explosion of printing activities in Europe within only a few decades. From a single print shop in Mainz
Mainz
Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

, Germany, printing had spread to no less than around 270 cities in Central, Western and Eastern Europe by the end of the 15th century. As early as 1480, there were printers active in 110 different places in Germany, Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, England, Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

 and Poland. From that time on, it is assumed that "the printed book was in universal use in Europe".

In Italy, a center of early printing, print shops had been established in 77 cities and towns by 1500. At the end of the following century, 151 locations in Italy had seen at one time printing activities, with a total of nearly three thousand printers known to be active. Despite this proliferation, printing centres soon emerged; thus, one third of the Italian printers published in Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

.

By 1500, the printing presses in operation throughout Western Europe had already produced more than twenty million copies. In the following century, their output rose tenfold to an estimated 150 to 200 million copies.

European printing presses of around 1600 were capable of producing 3,600 impressions per workday. By comparison, movable type printing in the Far East
Far East
The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

, which did not know presses and was solely done by manually rubbing the back of the paper to the page, did not exceed an output of forty pages per day.

The vast printing capacities meant that individual authors could now become true bestseller
Bestseller
A bestseller is a book that is identified as extremely popular by its inclusion on lists of currently top selling titles that are based on publishing industry and book trade figures and published by newspapers, magazines, or bookstore chains. Some lists are broken down into classifications and...

s: Of Erasmus's work, at least 750,000 copies were sold during his lifetime alone (1469–1536). In the early days of the Reformation, the revolutionary potential of bulk printing took princes and papacy alike by surprise. In the period from 1518 to 1524, the publication of books in Germany alone skyrocketed sevenfold; between 1518 and 1520, Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

's tracts were distributed in 300,000 printed copies.

The rapidity of typographical text production, as well as the sharp fall in unit costs, led to the issuing of the first newspaper
Newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

s (see Relation) which opened up an entirely new field for conveying up-to-date information to the public.

A lasting legacy are the prized incunable, surviving pre-16th century print works which are collected by many of the most prestigious libraries in Europe and North America.

Circulation of information and ideas



The printing press was also a factor in the establishment of a community of scientists who could easily communicate their discoveries through the establishment of widely disseminated scholarly journals, helping to bring on the scientific revolution
Scientific revolution
The Scientific Revolution is an era associated primarily with the 16th and 17th centuries during which new ideas and knowledge in physics, astronomy, biology, medicine and chemistry transformed medieval and ancient views of nature and laid the foundations for modern science...

. Because of the printing press, author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

ship became more meaningful and profitable. It was suddenly important who had said or written what, and what the precise formulation and time of composition was. This allowed the exact citing of references, producing the rule, "One Author, one work (title), one piece of information" (Giesecke, 1989; 325). Before, the author was less important, since a copy of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 made in Paris would not be exactly identical to one made in Bologna. For many works prior to the printing press, the name of the author has been entirely lost.

Because the printing process ensured that the same information fell on the same pages, page numbering, tables of contents, and indices became common, though they previously had not been unknown. The process of reading also changed, gradually moving over several centuries from oral readings to silent, private reading. The wider availability of printed materials also led to a drastic rise in the adult literacy rate throughout Europe.

The printing press was an important step towards the democratization of knowledge
Democratization of knowledge
The democratization of knowledge is the acquisition and spread of knowledge amongst the common people, not just privileged elites such as priests and academics.-History:The printing press was one of the early steps towards the democratization of knowledge....

. Within fifty or sixty years of the invention of the printing press, the entire classical canon had been reprinted and widely promulgated throughout Europe (Eisenstein, 1969; 52). Now that more people had access to knowledge both new and old, more people could discuss these works. Furthermore, now that book production was a more commercial enterprise, the first copyright
Copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...

 laws were passed to protect what we now would call intellectual property
Intellectual property
Intellectual property is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law...

 rights. On the other hand, the printing press was criticized for allowing the dissemination of information which may have been incorrect.

A second outgrowth of this popularization of knowledge was the decline of Latin as the language of most published works, to be replaced by the vernacular language of each area, increasing the variety of published works. The printed word also helped to unify and standardize the spelling and syntax of these vernaculars, in effect 'decreasing' their variability. This rise in importance of national languages as opposed to pan-European Latin is cited as one of the causes of the rise of nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 in Europe.

Book printing as art form


For years, book printing was considered a true art form. Typesetting
Typesetting
Typesetting is the composition of text by means of types.Typesetting requires the prior process of designing a font and storing it in some manner...

, or the placement of the characters on the page, including the use of ligatures
Ligature (typography)
In writing and typography, a ligature occurs where two or more graphemes are joined as a single glyph. Ligatures usually replace consecutive characters sharing common components and are part of a more general class of glyphs called "contextual forms", where the specific shape of a letter depends on...

, was passed down from master to apprentice. In Germany, the art of typesetting was termed the "black art," in allusion to the ink-covered printers. It has largely been replaced by computer typesetting programs, which make it easy to get similar results more quickly and with less physical labor. Some practitioners continue to print books the way Gutenberg did. For example, there is a yearly convention of traditional book printers in Mainz, Germany.

Some theorists, such as McLuhan
Marshall McLuhan
Herbert Marshall McLuhan, CC was a Canadian educator, philosopher, and scholar—a professor of English literature, a literary critic, a rhetorician, and a communication theorist...

, Eisenstein
Elizabeth Eisenstein
Elizabeth Lewisohn Eisenstein is an American historian of the French Revolution and early 19th century France. She is well-known for her work on the history of early printing, writing on the transition in media between the era of 'manuscript culture' and that of 'print culture', as well as the role...

, Kittler
Kittler
Kittler is the surname of the following people:* Erasmus Kittler , German electronics pioneer* Friedrich Kittler , German media theorist* Philipp Kittler , German sculptor...

, and Giesecke, see an "alphabetic monopoly" as having developed from printing, removing the role of the image from society. Other authors stress that printed works themselves are a visual medium. Certainly, modern developments in printing have revitalized the role of illustrations.

Industrial printing presses




At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

, the mechanics of the hand-operated Gutenberg-style press were still essentially unchanged, although new materials in its construction, amongst other innovations, had gradually improved its printing efficiency. By 1800, Lord Stanhope
Charles Stanhope, 3rd Earl Stanhope
Charles Stanhope, 3rd Earl Stanhope aka Charles Mahon, 3rd Earl Stanhope FRS was a British statesman and scientist. He was the father of the great traveller and Arabist Lady Hester Stanhope and brother-in-law of William Pitt the Younger. He is sometimes confused with an exact contemporary of his,...

 had built a press completely from cast iron which reduced the force required by 90%, while doubling the size of the printed area. With a capacity of 480 pages per hour, it doubled the output of the old style press. Nonetheless, the limitations inherent to the traditional method of printing became obvious.

Two ideas altered the design of the printing press radically: First, the use of steam power for running the machinery, and second the replacement of the printing flatbed with the rotary motion of cylinders. Both elements were for the first time successfully implemented by the German printer Friedrich Koenig
Friedrich Koenig
Friedrich Gottlob Koenig was a German inventor best-known for his high-speed printing press, which he built together with watchmaker Andreas Friedrich Bauer....

 in a series of press designs devised between 1802 and 1818. Having moved to London in 1804, Koenig soon met Thomas Bensley and secured financial support for his project in 1807. Patented in 1810, Koenig had designed a steam press "much like a hand press connected to a steam engine." The first production trial of this model occurred in April 1811. He produced his machine with assistance from German engineer Andreas Friedrich Bauer
Andreas Friedrich Bauer
Andreas Friedrich Bauer was a German engineer who developed the first functional steam-powered printing press with his colleague Friedrich Koenig, who had invented the technology and sold it to The Times in London in 1814....

.

Koenig and Bauer sold two of their first models to The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in 1814, capable of 1,100 impressions per hour. The first edition so printed was on November 28, 1814. They went on to perfect the early model so that it could print on both sides of a sheet at once. This began the long process of making newspaper
Newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

s available to a mass audience (which in turn helped spread literacy), and from the 1820s changed the nature of book
Book
A book is a set or collection of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of hot lava, paper, parchment, or other materials, usually fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within a book is called a leaf or leaflet, and each side of a leaf is called a page...

 production, forcing a greater standardization in titles and other metadata. Their company Koenig & Bauer AG is still one of the world's largest manufacturers of printing presses today.

The steam powered rotary printing press
Rotary printing press
A rotary printing press is a printing press in which the images to be printed are curved around a cylinder. Printing can be done on large number of substrates, including paper, cardboard, and plastic. Substrates can be sheet feed or unwound on a continuous roll through the press to be printed and...

, invented in 1843 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 by Richard M. Hoe, allowed millions of copies of a page in a single day. Mass production of printed works flourished after the transition to rolled paper, as continuous feed allowed the presses to run at a much faster pace.

Also, in the middle of the 19th century, there was a separate development of jobbing presses
Jobbing presses
A Jobbing Press is a printing press common in the 19th and 20th centuries. The press is meant to be operated by a pressman working on small jobs, as opposed to long print runs or newspaper work. A printer with a jobber would most commonly print personal stationery, handbills, or other small...

, small presses capable of printing small-format pieces such as billhead
Billhead
Billhead receipts are receipts that were commonly used in business transactions from the late 1860s through the early 1940s. They can be found in present-day transactions, although they are less common today....

s, letterheads, business cards, and envelopes. Jobbing presses were capable of quick set-up (average setup time for a small job was under 15 minutes) and quick production (even on treadle-powered jobbing presses it was considered normal to get 1,000 impressions per hour [iph] with one pressman, with speeds of 1,500 iph often attained on simple envelope work). Job printing emerged as a reasonably cost-effective duplicating solution for commerce at this time.

By the late 1930s or early 1940s, printing presses had increased substantially in efficiency: a model by Platen Printing Press was capable of performing 2,500 to 3,000 impressions per hour.

Printing capacity


The table lists the maximum number of pages which the various press designs could print per hour.
Hand-operated presses Steam-powered presses
Gutenberg-style
ca. 1600
Stanhope
Charles Stanhope, 3rd Earl Stanhope
Charles Stanhope, 3rd Earl Stanhope aka Charles Mahon, 3rd Earl Stanhope FRS was a British statesman and scientist. He was the father of the great traveller and Arabist Lady Hester Stanhope and brother-in-law of William Pitt the Younger. He is sometimes confused with an exact contemporary of his,...

 press
ca. 1800
Koenig
Friedrich Koenig
Friedrich Gottlob Koenig was a German inventor best-known for his high-speed printing press, which he built together with watchmaker Andreas Friedrich Bauer....

 press
1812
Koenig press
1813
Koenig press
1814
Koenig press
1818
Impressions per hour 240 480 800 1,100 2,000 2,400

See also


General
  • Printing
    Printing
    Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

  • Typography
    Typography
    Typography is the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading , adjusting the spaces between groups of letters and adjusting the space between pairs of letters...


Printing presses
  • Adana Printing Presses
    Adana Printing Machines
    The hugely popular Adana Printing presses were manufactured from 1922–1999, in Twickenham, England. Although most of the presses produced by Adana were aimed at hobby printers, they were frequently put to commercial use...

  • Albion press
    Albion press
    The Albion press is a model of early iron hand printing press, originally designed and manufactured in London by Richard Whittaker Cope around 1820. It worked by a simple toggle action, unlike the complex lever-mechanism of the Columbian press and the Stanhope press. Albions continued to be...

  • Columbian Printing Press
    Columbian Printing Press
    The Columbian press was invented by George E. Clymer, probably in 1813, inspired in some measure by the earlier Stanhope press. It was designed to allow a whole newspaper page to be printed in a single pull. The press worked by a lever system, similar to that of the Stanhope press and quite...

  • Flexography
    Flexography
    Flexography is a form of printing process which utilizes a flexible relief plate. It is basically an updated version of letterpress that can be used for printing on almost any type of substrate including plastic, metallic films, cellophane, and paper...

  • Vertical print press
    Augustus Applegath
    Augustus Applegath was the inventor of the vertical printing-press.He was born in Stepney but carried out most of his work in the Dartford and Crayford areas of Kent...


Other inventions
  • Color printing
    Color printing
    Color printing or Colour printing is the reproduction of an image or text in color...

  • Lithography
    Lithography
    Lithography is a method for printing using a stone or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface...

  • Offset printing
    Offset printing
    Offset printing is a commonly used printing technique in which the inked image is transferred from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface...

  • Desktop publishing
    Desktop publishing
    Desktop publishing is the creation of documents using page layout software on a personal computer.The term has been used for publishing at all levels, from small-circulation documents such as local newsletters to books, magazines and newspapers...

  • Electronic publishing
    Electronic publishing
    Electronic publishing or ePublishing includes the digital publication of e-books and electronic articles, and the development of digital libraries and catalogues. Electronic publishing has become common in scientific publishing where it has been argued that peer-reviewed scientific journals are in...

  • Computer printer
    Computer printer
    In computing, a printer is a peripheral which produces a text or graphics of documents stored in electronic form, usually on physical print media such as paper or transparencies. Many printers are primarily used as local peripherals, and are attached by a printer cable or, in most new printers, a...

  • Composing stick
    Composing stick
    In letterpress printing and typesetting, a composing stick is an instrument used to assemble pieces of metal type into words and lines which are later bound into a forme, set in a galley and printed...


External links