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For the invention and technology of movable type, see Movable type.
A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a media (such as paper or cloth), thereby transfering an image. It was invented in Germany by the engraver Johann Gutenberg in 1440. Printing methods based on Gutenberg's printing press spread rapidly throughout first Europe and then the rest of the world, replacing most block printing and making it the sole progenitor of modern movable type printing.The movable type mechanical printing device for making copies of identical text on multiple sheets of paper As a method of creating reproductions for mass consumption, movable type has been superseded by advent of offset printing.
In Europe, the printing press's ability to quickly and uniformly disseminate knowledge aided in the propagation of Luther's Ninety-Five Theses and other works of the Protestant Reformation, the European rediscovery of the Greek and Roman classics that helped stimulate the Renaissance, the decline of Latin and the ascent of the various vernaculars, and the development of scientific journals and their specialist vocabulary, or jargon. The level of importance of the printing press is rivaled by few other inventions, so much so that "the invention of the printing press" is often used as a reference to the social, political, and scientific change experienced by Europe after the press's introduction.

Around the year 1040, the world's first movable type printing press was invented in China by Bi Sheng out of a varied assortment of complex ancient Chinese characters using porcelain components. Over the course of the next two hundred years this type of Chinese printing technology was gradually transmitted to what was then the Chinese vassal state of Korea, which during this period of time was under the heavy cultural and political influence of China. It was during this period of technological innovation that the first metal movable type printing press was invented in Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty around 1230.
Beside Gutenberg, there are several local claims for the invention of the printing press in other parts of Europe, including Laurens Janszoon Coster in the Netherlands and Panfilo Castaldi in Italy.

Adapted from Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography (Oxford: OUP, 1995)
The parts of the printing press:
The printing process:
The same procedure was followed for printing the second side of the sheet, positioning the sheet on the already-adjusted points. Printing the second side is called perfecting. In the sixteenth century, the first side of the sheet was printed in the morning and the second side was printed in the afternoon. In the eighteenth century, one side was done on one press and the other side was done on another press.
Two pressmen could print 250 sheets an hour, going from step 8 to step 15 in about fifteen seconds but according to McKenzie, they seldom did. A full press-crew was two men - a puller and a beater, and often a boy to put on fresh ink.

In China and Korea, the impact of printing using movable type devices was limited due to the enormous amount of labour required to manipulate the over 100,000 porcelain, and in the case of Korea, metal tablets of written Chinese characters involved. Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands of books on subjects, ranging from Confucian Classics, to science and mathematics were printed in the form of paper books using the more ancient form of woodblock printing, which was more economically feasible.
In contrast, the impact of printing in Europe was comparable to the development of writing and the invention of the alphabet or the Internet as far as its effects on the society. Just as writing did not replace speaking, printing did not achieve a position of total dominance. Handwritten manuscripts continued to be produced, and the different graphic modes of communication continued to influence each other.
Printing, in Europe, also was a factor in the establishment of a community of scientists who could easily communicate their discoveries through the establishment of widely disseminated scholarly journals, helping to bring on the scientific revolution.
Because of the printing press, authorship became more meaningful and profitable. It was suddenly important who had said or written what, and what the precise formulation and time of composition was. This allowed the exact citing of references, producing the rule, "One Author, one work (title), one piece of information" (Giesecke, 1989; 325). Before, the author was less important, since a copy of Aristotle made in Paris would not be exactly identical to one made in Bologna. For many works prior to the printing press, the name of the author was entirely lost.
Because the printing process ensured that the same information fell on the same pages, page numbering, tables of contents, and indices became common, though they previously had not been unknown. The process of reading was also changed, gradually changing over several centuries from oral readings to silent, private reading. The wider availability of printed materials also led to a drastic rise in the adult literacy rate throughout Europe.
Within fifty or sixty years of the invention of the printing press, the entire classical canon had been reprinted and widely promulgated throughout Europe (Eisenstein, 1969; 52). Now that more people had access to knowledge both new and old, more people could discuss these works. Furthermore, now that book production was a more commercial enterprise, the first copyright laws were passed to protect what we now would call intellectual property rights. A second outgrowth of this popularization of knowledge was the decline of Latin as the language of most published works, to be replaced by the vernacular language of each area, increasing the variety of published works. Paradoxically, the printing word also helped to unify and standardize the spelling and syntax of these vernaculars, in effect 'decreasing' their variability. This rise in importance of national languages as opposed to pan-European Latin is cited as one of the causes of the rise of nationalism in Europe.

For years, book printing was considered a true art form. Typesetting, or the placement of the characters on the page, including the use of ligatures, was passed down from master to apprentice. In Germany, the art of typesetting was termed the "black art" in allusion to the ink-covered printers. It has largely been replaced by computer typesetting programs, which make it possible to get similar results with less human involvement. Some practitioners continue to print books the way Gutenberg did. For example, there is a yearly convention of traditional book printers in Mainz, Germany.
Some theorists, such as McLuhan, Eisenstein, Kittler, and Giesecke, see an "alphabetic monopoly" as having developed from printing, removing the role of the image from society. Other authors stress that printed works themselves are a visual medium. Certainly, modern developments in printing have revitalized the role of illustrations.

The Gutenberg press was much more efficient than manual copying, and as testament to its effectiveness, it was essentially unchanged from the time of its invention until the Industrial Revolution, some three hundred years later. The "old style" press (as it was termed in the nineteenth century) was constructed of wood and could produce 240 impressions per hour of simple work using a well experienced two-man crew.
The invention of the steam powered press, credited to the German inventors Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Friedrich Bauer in 1812, made it possible to print over a thousand copies of a page per hour.
Koenig and Bauer sold two of their first models to The Times in London in 1814, capable of 1,100 impressions per hour. The first edition so printed was on November 28, 1814. They went on to perfect the early model so that it could print on both sides of a sheet at once. This began the long process of making newspapers available to a mass audience (which in turn helped spread literacy), and from the 1820s changed the nature of book production, forcing a greater standardization in titles and other metadata. Their company Koenig & Bauer AG is still one of the world's largest manufacturers of printing presses today.
Their press was improved by Applegath and Cooper. The diagram indicates the principle of operation of a Cooper and Applegath's Single Machine. The press is built up from a large flat inking table (A) which moves regularly back and forth, the form (B) on the table holds the type. The paper travels clockwise round a large cloth covered cylinder, the impression roller (C), and is pressed against the table. The ductor roller (D) rotates and so draws ink from the attached reservoir. The ink passes from the ductor roller to the vibrating roller (E), this moves, on its arms, in a regular motion between the ductor roller and the table. The ink is spread thinly and evenly by the distributing rollers (F) and then, as the table moves, passes onto the inking rollers (G). The axles of the inking rollers rest in grooves, allowing them to rise and fall, they are also positioned at a slight angle to the table to improve ink distribution. As the table continues to move the form passes alternately under the inking rollers, twice, and then under the impression roller.
Later on in the middle of the 19th century the rotary printing press (invented in 1833 in the United States by Richard M. Hoe) allowed millions of copies of a page in a single day. Mass production of printed works flourished after the transition to rolled paper, as continuous feed allowed the presses to run at a much faster pace.
Also, in the middle of the 19th century, there was a separate development of jobbing presses, small presses capable of printing small-format pieces such as billheads, letterheads, business cards, and envelopes. Jobbing presses were capable of quick set-up (average makeready time for a small job was under 15 minutes) and quick production (even on treadle-powered jobbing presses it was considered normal to get 1,000 impressions per hour [iph] with one pressman, with speeds of 1,500 iph often attained on simple envelope work). Job printing emerged as a reasonably cost-effective duplicating solution for commerce at this time.
Later inventions in this field include the following:

On the effects of Gutenberg's printing

The frame - immovably braces and supports the two moving parts.
The carriage assembly - carries the type and paper in and out of the impression assembly.
The impression assembly - pushes (or presses) the paper onto the inked type.
Buy the paper. Paper from the same lot will give the resulting book a uniform look.
Arrange the paper into stacks of 250 sheets. These are called tokens and are the units for calculating a pressman's work. Most book editions are in multiples of 250 copies.
The night before printing, wet the stack of paper and let it stand under a heavy weight. This helps the paper to absorb ink.
Make register by loading the forme into the carriage assembly on the press stone so that when the paper was printed on one side and then flipped over and printed on the other side, the pages printed squarely on top of each other. Press points on the tympan were adjusted to hold the paper in position.
Paste one sheet of paper to the tympan to serve as a guide to positioning the sheets of paper to be printed.
Paste another sheet of paper to the frisket, print the first forme on it and cut out the areas where text appears. This will protect the white areas of the sheet from dirt and ink.
The beater inks the type in the forme (called beating the forme) using two ink balls - leather-covered pads of horsehair or wool with handles. Ink rollers were not invented until after the hand-press era.
The puller lays the sheet of clean paper to be printed onto the tympan and then lowers the frisket onto it.
The beater folds the tympan, paper, and frisket down onto the forme.
The puller runs the front end of the carriage assembly under the impression assembly by turning the rounce.
The puller pulls on the bar to force the platen down onto the tympan, thereby pressing the paper onto the inked forme. When he releases the bar, the platen will spring back.
The rounce is turned again to pull the second half of the forme under the platen and the platen is lowered again.
Release the bar to lift the platen and turn the rounce to pull the carriage assembly out from under the impression assembly.
Unfold the carriage assembly to remove the printed sheet.
Repeat this procedure from step 8 for each sheet in the stack.
Offset printing
Desktop publishing
Electronic publishing
Computer printer
Composing stick
Fontaine, Jean-Paul. L'aventure du livre: Du manuscrit medieval a nos jours. Paris: Bibliotheque de l'image, 1999.
Citation from The Encyclopedia of World History Sixth Edition, Peter N. Stearns (general editor), © 2001 The Houghton Mifflin Company, at
Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, Cambridge University Press, September 1980, Paperback, 832 pages, ISBN 0-521-29955-1
More recent, abridged version: Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe, Cambridge University Press, 2Rev ed, 12 September 2005, Paperback, ISBN 0-521-60774-4
Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (1962) Univ. of Toronto Press (1st ed.); reissued by Routledge & Kegan Paul ISBN 0-7100-1818-5.
Augustus Applegath - inventor of the vertical print press
Color printing
David Bruce
George E. Clymer
Muller Martini
National Print Museum of Ireland
Print culture
William Clowes (Printer)
Centre for the History of the Book
Gutenberg printing Photos of Incunabula and the Gutenberg Bible (1455)
BGDP Safety on printing presses

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