Development of printing technologies until the 15th Century-
The first printing attempts occurred around 3000 BC, when the Mesopotamian culture created rolling stamps to imprint designs on clay. This has been continued for many centuries up to about 200 AD. Wood block printing was developed for printing on fabric in East Asia. The influence of Buddhism has led to printing on paper to produce religious texts. In China, Bi Sheng has created a porcelain mobile press. The Chinese alphabet proved too large for this effort, however, and the method did not gain popularity. The above xylography technique spread through the Islamic world and reached Europe with 1400. Here, it was used to create objects such as playing cards and religious images. Until that moment,
- Mainz’s masterpiece
Around 1439 in the city of Mainz, Germany, Johannes Gutenberg created the European mobile typography. He also developed the first oil-based ink more resistant than the water-based inks previously used. The Gutenberg Bible, printed in the 1450s, was the first major publication and the era of the European press began. The first copies of the Gutenberg Bible were quickly sold to monasteries, universities and wealthy people throughout Europe. Although they were less expensive than handwritten bibles, the printed bible was still too expensive for many middle and lower class individuals.
- Obstacles in front of Johannes Gutenberg-
To pursue the Gutenberg Bible project, Johannes had to borrow a loan from Johann Fust. In 1456, the two had a dispute over the use of money and Fust asked for his money back. At this point, the bible project cost more than it had originally planned, and Gutenberg was in significant debt. The matter went to court and the judge decided in favor of Fust. Subsequently, he was given control of the printing workshop and half of the books he produced. This left Gutenberg bankrupt. However, he succeeded in starting a second smaller print shop and started printing the Bible in another city in 1459. Scholars discuss whether this was Gutenberg’s work or not. Meantime,
- Importance for the mass media and the spread of Christianity –
The Gutenberg Bible is an important contribution to the modern field of telecommunications and the widespread practice of Christianity. The Gutenberg press made mass production possible for the first time in history. By the early 1500s, about 500,000 books had been printed in a wide range of subjects. The availability of books has led to a decrease in prices and an increase in literacy levels across Europe and ideas could be disseminated and understood on a much broader basis than before. The researchers attribute to the press the merit of having made the Renaissance, the scientific revolution and the Protestant Reformation possible. When Martin Luther wrote his Ninety-five theses, he printed it and distributed multiple copies. Furthermore,
- Copies and legacies survived –
Today there are 49 copies of Gutenberg’s original Bible, although only 20 of them are complete copies. Researchers believe that around 180 Bibles were originally printed. The Gutenberg Bible is considered one of the most valuable books in the world and most are owned by academic institutions. Gutenberg himself, although not very successful in life, is recognized as one of the most influential characters in history.