The history of printing Printing, or the process of reproducing text and images, has a long history behind it. This page describes the evolution of print. It acts as a summary of a more elaborate description which starts here. You can also click on the title of each century to get more in-depth information.
To be completed Saints and playing cards: As in the east, the images are printed by the simple method of laying a piece of paper on a carved and inked block and then rubbing its back to transfer the ink.
And as in the east, the main market is holy images for sale to pilgrims. Playing cards are another early part of the western trade. Later in the 15th century, technical advances are made in Germany which rapidly transform printing from a cottage industry to a cornerstone of western civilization.
He is being sued by two of his business partners. Witnesses, asked about Gutenberg's stock, describe a press and a supply of metal type. It sounds as though he is already capable of printing small items of text from movable type, and it seems likely that he must have done so in Strasbourg.
But nothing from this period survives. By the time he is next heard of in connection with printing, he is in Mainz.
He borrows guilders in from Johann Fust with his printing equipment as security. The resulting story of Gutenberg and Fust is a saga in itself.The printing press allows us to share large amounts of information quickly and in huge numbers.
In fact, the printing press is so significant that it has come to be known as one of the most important inventions of our time. The immediate effect of the printing press was to multiply the output and cut the costs of books. It thus made information available to a much larger segment of the population who were, of course, eager for information of any variety.
AT A GLANCE: In , German inventor Johannes Gutenberg invented a printing press process that, with refinements and increased mechanization, remained the principal means of printing until the late 20th century.
The invention of printing is generally conceded to be one of the defining inventions for the advancement of civilization. Gutenberg's movable type printing press about AD is often cited as the single greatest invention for world civilization.
Yet the process of printing from movable type, for centuries attributed to Gutenberg, without supporting documents on the technical aspects of the process, except for the surviving examples of his printing, seems to have evolved in stages from the early s, and may or may not have involved other inventors besides Gutenberg.
The technical brilliance of early European woodcuts is astonishing (and in the hands of masters such as Dürer, the craft becomes great art), but the cutting away of all the white parts of an image is a laborious and perverse way of proceeding.
Within the first century of printing two more congenial methods become available - engraving and etching.