The Printing Press

Quan, Ana Danielle

Gutenberg- The Printing Press

Gutenberg- The Printing Press

The invention of the printing press took place in 1450 in the Western hemisphere, Europe by the German Johannes Gutenberg. The German developed the printing system by modifying the existing technology of the moveable type printing technique; invented in China years earlier in 1377 and combined it with his own inventions. Gutenberg combined three essential components: paper, press and moveable types. Consequently Gutenberg’s invention shifted the earlier methods of printing and lead to the first “assembly- line of mass production of books” (McLuhan, 1962).

His invention gave birth to the period of modernity (McLuhan, 1962) and is largely known as among the most influential events in human history as it drastically changed the way people could communicate. The printing press actually had several impacts on society. Starting with the fact that it democratized knowledge, in the sense that before this technology, knowledge was very limited and belonged mostly to the elite strata. Hence the creation of books allowed for people to number one increase the literacy rates thus making society more alphabetic, which resulted in people being able to create their own opinions as it was no longer something only the high socioeconomic class had access to. The reason for why knowledge was limited before the printing press was because the creation of books took a lot of time and money, as the writer had to sit down and make an exact copy of the book, this took years to do. Additionally as they had to hand- copy the content, it raised the issue of information being corrupted and changed, thus the information could change resulting on an unbalanced share of information. As a result the printing press allowed for documented material to be released to society.

Hence it could be said that the invention of the printing press belongs to an information, technology and social change. As Gutenberg’s invention was the origin of a revolution in the way people acquired knowledge and communicated, taking the social structure to another level. As mentioned previously this technological change made people more literate making society move forward as it gave the opportunity to all the different social classes (both high a low socioeconomic strata) to gain knowledge as it provided them with information and education.


  • Kreis, Steven. “The Printing Press.” The History Guide. The History Guide, Apr. 2012. Web. 9 Sept. 2014.
  • McLuhan, Marshall (1962). “The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man” (1st), University of Toronto Press. 1962. Web. 9 Sept. 2014.
  • “The Printing Press Video.” com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2014.
  • Image: “Publish History Files.” Publish History Files; The Printing Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Sept. 2014.