Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Trivia: History of Printing Press

The printing press is a mechanical device for printing multiple copies of a text on sheets of paper. Building on movable type which made its way to Europe from China in the 1300s, the use of movable type to mass produce printed works was popularized by a German goldsmith and eventual printer, Johannes Gutenberg, in the 1450s. While there are several local claims for the invention of the printing press in other parts of Europe, including Laurens Janszoon Coster in the Netherlands and Panfilo Castaldi in Italy, Gutenberg is credited by most scholars with its invention.

Block Printing

The original method of printing was block printing, pressing sheets of paper into individually carved wooden blocks (xylography). Block printing is believed to have originated in Asia. Recently, an excavation of a Korean pagoda unearthed a Buddhist sutra which dates to 750-751 CE, and is now considered the oldest discovered printed work in the world. Before this discovery, it was believed that the earliest known printed text was the Diamond Sutra (a Buddhist scripture), printed in China in the mid-9th century. The technique was also known in Europe, where it was mostly used to print Bibles. Because of the difficulties inherent in carving massive quantities of minute text for every block, and given the levels of peasant illiteracy at the time, texts such as the “Pauper's Bibles” emphasized illustrations and used words sparsely. As a new block had to be carved for each page, printing different books was an incredibly time-consuming activity.

No comments:

Post a Comment