How was printing invented?

The history of printing is deeply rooted in the history of writing, as a form of expressing human emotions and ideas, thousands of years before the notorious Manroland presses were created. At the dawn of human civilization, ties on a rope, sticks, and stones with certain shapes and sizes expressed the word in a material way.

After a long history of oral communication, mankind discovered the visual art of expressing the spoken word with the help of figures. The first proofs of written communication are from the temples and palaces of the kings of Sumer and Babylon, as old as 2291-2122 B.C.

We are talking about the famous cuneiforms that were text simbols carved on print blocks, used at clay printing. The need to record historical, political and religious ideas separating the image from its sound form led to the development of alphabets. Those were systems of independent signs that were different than the expression of emotions or state of minds through images, by using combinations of letters or pictograms as conventional signs.

The technological and scientifical evolution of humans made them pass on their cultural legacy under the form of alphabetic writing. The first steps were made by the jewish rabbis, the chinese imperial ministers, the christian and buddhist monks, that copied the written information to pass them on to the next generations.

The first printing techniques were represented by wooden blocks used by chinese people to print their buddhist writings since the 7th century AD. The oldest writings on paper as we know it today are from that period of time.

A role of paper with a religious buddhist text was printed in 704-751, discovered in our era in 1966 can be found today at the Pulguk-sa buddhist temple in Kyongju, Korea. In the 11th century, chinese people already were using printing plates with mobile characters. Despite this, Johaness Gutenberg, candidate for “the man of the second millenium”, is considered the inventor of the printing press.

Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg was born in the german city of Mainz, son of Friele Gensfleisch zur Laden, a merchant who adopted the name “zum Gutenberg” after the neighborhood in which he lived with his family. Johannes Gutenberg was born into a rich family that had a long tradition in gold and coins manufacturing.

In the year of 1450, Gutenberg associated with fellow richmen Johann Fust and Peter Schoffer to develop the first printing press with mobile characters in Europe. In 1454, Johannes Gutenberg printed a calendar and the famous Bible with 42 rows on every page that was printed in 170 copies.

Eventhough he didn’t invent the printing process, his experiments made the printing more practical and was the foundation of the printing industry as we know it today. He used sand moldes to form the characters and was the first to introduce them to the Western World.

Gutenberg died in 1468 in the same city where he was born. The mobile characters he created were used unchanged for five centuries to print billions of books and publications.