The Printing Press

The Printing Press

The Printing Press

The Printing Press


How do We Know what We know? Our minds are full of stuff—facts, ideas, stories, gossip, names, memories—good stuff and bad. Stuff that we believe in, stuff that we don’t.

Where does it all come from?

We absorb it from the world around us. What others tell us: family, friends, neighbors, schoolmates, teachers. What we see and hear on the radio and television, and in the movies. And what, in this modern information age, we get from the Internet, through search engines and e-mail and e-books.

But much of what we take into our heads still comes from the printed word. Print, print, everywhere—in newspapers, magazines, leaflets, posters, billboards, and especially books.

Printing: that is what this book is about. How the process of printing was invented, and the multiple effects the invention has had on our lives and our world in the more than five hundred years since.

Does it matter? Some historians believe that the invention of printing technology was a unique event central to the history of mankind because it signaled not only the end of the Middle Ages, but the beginning of the modern world. Science itself, some believe, was unthinkable without the information that printing provided. No invention, it has been said, stirred people’s imaginations quite as much as the invention of printing.

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