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Spotlight Artist: Johannes Gutenberg

September 16, 2019

 

Johannes Gutenberg was a German blacksmith, goldsmith, printer, and publisher who introduced printing to Europe. His introduction of mechanical movable type printing to Europe started the Printing Revolution and is widely regarded as the most important invention of the second millennium, the seminal event which ushered in the modern period of human history.[3] It played a key role in the development of the Renaissance, Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific revolution and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy and the spread of learning to the masses.[4]

Gutenberg in 1439 was the first European to use the printing press and movable type. Among his many contributions to printing are: the invention of a process for mass-producing movable type;[citation needed] the use of oil-based ink for printing books;[5] adjustable molds;[6] mechanical movable type; and the use of a wooden printing press similar to the agricultural screw presses of the period.[7] His truly epochal invention was the combination of these elements into a practical system that allowed the mass production of printed books and was economically viable for printers and readers alike. Gutenberg's method for making type is traditionally considered to have included a type metal alloy and a hand mould for casting type. The alloy was a mixture of lead, tin, and antimony that melted at a relatively low temperature for faster and more economical casting, cast well, and created a durable type. (excerpt from Wikipedia)

 

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Essential Questions

  • What technology did his invention replace?  Why was this important?

  • Beyond the technical innovation, how did his invention lead to new social/ political thinking or structures?

  • What other contemporary inventions have had a similar impact?

 

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