Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press forever changed how people communicate. Gutenberg was a German metalworker and inventor. He is famous for his work in printing in the 1450s, and is specifically known for inventing typography, or how the printed word appears on the page. Before the printing press, books were handwritten by scribes who were often priests or scholars and they would spend hours carefully writing out text on parchment or vellum. The time and effort it took to handwrite these books made them very expensive. The printing press cut both the time and the cost, increasing accessibility to a wider audience.
Gutenberg took the idea for his printing press from the presses winemakers used. He applied the concept of moveable type in his printing machine, a practice originally invented in China. Before movable type, people used block printing, where the printer prints a whole page from one piece of metal or wood. This is time consuming, as each page must be hand-cut and letters cannot be changed or moved. With movable type, the printer makes a letter (A, B, C …) from a piece of metal or wood, and can reuse it again and again in different words. This made the process much faster and led to the information explosion that happened in Renaissance Europe. With a cheaper, faster printing press, ideas could be shared more easily to a wider audience. In a short time, different people printed many new books about many topics.
Gutenberg’s most famous printed text was the Bible. He printed fewer than 200 copies of this 42-line version of the Bible, but it was the first Bible printed on a press. Today, only 60 Gutenberg Bibles are still in existence.
In his lifetime, Gutenberg was not successful, but his invention of the printing press was very important. In a short time, news and books were traveling around Europe very fast. Scientists could communicate better, which helped bring the scientific revolution and new technology. The invention of the printing press also meant that more Europeans, not just priests, scribes, and scholars, learned to read.
Adapted from https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg and https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutenberg_Bible