TECH 393 Technology in World Civilization
Many technologies prior to 1919 have had huge impacts on society that are still visible today, like electricity, firearms, and petroleum-based fuels. Though these and many other innovations have been impactful on us as a collective group, I believe there is something that absolutely changed history as we know it: the printing press. This innovation helped people quickly transfer more information, ideals, and beliefs than hand writing, as well it helped people learn to read easier.
Nobody really knows the exact date the printing press was first developed; however, experts have dated the oldest known printed text. Dating back to 868 A.D., The Diamond Sutra from Dunhuang, China was a Buddhist religious book printed using ancient block printing, where the panels used to press ink onto paper were fixed texts hand carved from wood. It wasn’t for another 150 years or so till individual movable letter (made of baked clay) printing plates were developed, by Bi Sheng of Yingshan, Hubei, China. This development let to the first known mass produced book: Nung Shu. About 400 years after this era, in 1450 a German man named Johannes Guttenberg revolutionized the printing press, using a metal, (iron and brass) design that printed perfectly horizonal text lines. Though this may be a huge part of his life, the most important thing Guttenberg did was produce one book: a Bible. He produced over 180 copies, 1300 pages each. Guttenberg’s workers also started producing and teaching the art of printing. The press moved throughout Europe, starting in Italy, France, and Spain. Many universities produced their own books for their students. Though education was important, what was more influential was the ideas and knowledge printed books brought to people. This brought individual power to each person that could interpret these texts. Books from men like John Calvin and Martin Luther showed the people the true corruption of Pope Alexander VI, sparking revolt and revolution in the early 1500’s The first ever widely available newspaper, The Relation, started production in 1605 in Strasbourg, France. It sparked the minds of many people in Europe, and many more newspapers popped up, giving the right of literacy, education, and formal information to ordinary people.
Though seeming overlooked, the printing press has made a huge, perhaps the biggest impact upon the world throughout history. It helped transfer ideas and ideologies that otherwise would be lost in history if they weren’t written...