Devry university

Devry university | The Printing Press | Gutenberg’s Movable type | | Lucas D Miller | 6/10/2012 | The information presented in this paper will illustrate how the printing press, more specifically Gutenberg’s press, acted as an “ agent of change” in the proliferation of knowledge throughout Europe and global society in general. | The world we know is merely the cumulative results of at least eight millennia of human activity and invention (Elliot, 2012). Writing was a way for man to immortalize their ideas in a manner that allowed them to be shared with others — But what good is this information when it can only be utilized by select few via education and monetary wealth? It took society centuries to catch up with the invention of writing. When writing was finally able to be used as a tool for the proliferation of information and not as a tool for the privileged to maintain leverage over those without means it was at the hands of a man named Johannes Gutenberg and his movable type printing press. Francis Bacon stated that typographical printing has, “ changed the whole face and state of things throughout the world”. The information presented in this paper will illustrate how the printing press, more specifically Gutenberg’s press, acted as an “ agent of change” in the proliferation of knowledge throughout Europe and global society in general. From the invention of the casting process and the ink used, to the first script printed that is considered the “ holy grail” of rare and antiquarian books. The movable type printing press gave way to the ideals of the renaissance and allowed the rise of medieval literacy to take hold during the years to follow. While Gutenberg’s early life is a mystery (due mostly to the fact that he had not yet invented the press) we know he was a German blacksmith who specialized in the casting of gold who was born around 1398. His father was believed to be a gold smith for a bishop at the time which points to Gutenberg having an intimate knowledge of smithing from an early age. His craft became very important to the printing press in later years. While pieces of the technology had been surfacing since the 11th century in China, their language was severely complicated containing thousands of characters making printing very difficult and time consuming. The Chinese had been printing for quite some time before Gutenberg’s invention but they had to rely on wood carvings of entire works – this presented two main problems; the first was the fact that the wood carving (which was also the European means of printing) required an expert and took a very long time. The second problem was the nature of the wood itself meant that the tablet was only good for a limited number of prints due to wear. Gutenberg’s solution was to use metal for the templates instead of wood; this then led to him creating the casting process required to have the amount of detail necessary for letters and symbols where his experience as a goldsmith was vital. To speed the process the characters were casted individually and due to the metals resilience and resistance to wear the letters were able to be used over and over again. By placing the letters in a matrix – a box that resembled a grate that contained the casted letters and kept them in place — the process of printing was made faster, cheaper, and easier. The rest of the machine utilized an agricultural screw press with a lever originally used for food production as well as an oil-based ink. The growth in economic and cultural development in Europe toward the end of the medieval era was “ perfect storm” of sorts for the development of Gutenberg’s press in 1436. Forward thinking, monetary capability, a rise in literacy, and the demand for books created the environment for the Gutenberg’s press to have the largest impact possible. (Höllein, 1999) All of a sudden the creation of books cost less, took less time and resources, and was a more precise art. This allowed for the previously unattainable book to become commonplace. Before Gutenberg’s press one of the only ways to get a book was by expensive hand copies, commonly done by clergy, that were only available to the elite of society; This was because of their wealth and ability to read, but with a great surge in education at the end of the medieval period – literacy was exponentially more common and the need for books was much greater. Post-Gutenberg, the conditions for this educational enlightenment were available. Texts became smaller which meant that they were more portable. The new portability of books meant that they were viable for trade which brought them from village to village, city to city, and even from country to country. With the cost a fraction of what is was previously the drive for education, individualism and in turn, rebellion was bolstered. (Gehl & Douglas, 1999). The new prevalence of literacy had an interesting effect on religion. Before the easy accessibility of books (bibles) and the ability to read them, the clergy was the only means for interpretation of this book everyone revered so highly (the bible). This meant that the clergy had complete control of how the public perceived religion and as a result could add or subtract their own views/ opinions or those of people with deep pockets or political station. Now that the public could read (the bible) and interpret their religion how they wanted the “ theological monopoly” the church held had been undermined. Men like Martin Luther and his writings could usher in the Protestant Reformation changing the humanities in Europe forever. Some even argue this independence from the church is what allowed for the scientific revolution (Samuelson, 2000). As information spread the beginnings of the “ age of enlightenment” or the renaissance could be seen. Soon the idea of a global society became a reality. Before this great literacy and the means to pass great information along, one can imagine that communicating information over distance was much like a game of ‘ telephone’… played with the hearing impaired… at a rock concert… with explosions. Now that information was no longer restricted to word of mouth, people in different towns, cities, and even countries could know the same things allowing for a sense of a global society. With translation possible a man in another country, that speaks another language, perhaps of the same social status as you, could have read the same book — which was an amazing accomplishment for the time and an idea and state of mind that would eventually change things. In the end of the medieval era a man named Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press gave way to the ideals and allowed for great things to happen. Samuelson stated that, “ Technologies acquire historical weight by reshaping the human condition. ” The movable type printing press allowed for the idea of mass literacy to be realized, spread the immortalized words of man allowing us to catch up with the invention of writing, made the quest for acquisition of knowledge commonplace, undermined an institution of control, and allowed for a reformation and an enlightenment of societies. What invention on the list of topics provided for research has acquired historical weight more thoroughly than Gutenberg’s movable type printing press. BIBLIOGRAPHY (annotated): * -Höllein, E. (1999). The time of gutenberg. Retrieved from http://www. gutenberg. de/english/zeit. htm This is a German site based out of Mainz, Germany — the birthplace of Johannes Gutenberg. The site had pictures that were useful for both the paper and presentation and talked of the “ time of Gutenberg” which was useful in gaining incite into the time period of the invention. * Eisenstein, E. L. (1979). The printing press as an agent of change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://books. google. com/books? hl= en&lr=&id= WR1eajpBG9cC&oi= fnd&pg= PR9&dq= Gutenberg’s Press&ots= EpHNS296qR&sig= S_DBFWZjl29MOs-E8jvQ_ymLp7k A PDF link to a book; covers the history of printing in general. Was great at illustrating the state of printing and its progression before and after Gutenberg’s press. Also gave the great adage, “ agent of change’. * Gehl, J., & Douglas, S. (1999). From movable type to data deluge. (pp. pp. 24-37). Washington Times Corp. A paper describing the information exchange then and now. Speaks of the benefits of Gutenberg’s invention and what it did to the books themselves and the class of people it effected. Was very informative in understanding the process of how books were made at the time and how the change effected society * Samuelson, R. J. (2000, January 24). The internet and gutenberg. Newsweek, Retrieved from http://www. graphics. tech. uh. edu/courses/3350/materials/internet_and_gutenberg. pdf An article from Newsweek that described the progression of information exchange throut the ages. Stated the greatness of the scope of the invention of the press and its importance in the development of how we get our information * Elliot, W. (2012). Inventions that changed the world. Retrieved from http://voices. yahoo. com/inventions-changed-world-10289253. html Talks briefly about inventions and the human condition in relation to them; also briefly discussed writing as a great invention — I liked the way he colored the topic and used much of that for my intro.