It is a press, certainly, but a press from which shall flow in inexhaustible streams. 


The Printing Press

Moveable Type

Nearly six centuries before Johannes Gutenberg used movable type, Chinese and Korean monks were using the system to produce texts. Woodblock printing dates back to before ad1000: the earliest woodblock-printed paper book that we can reliably date is the Chinese book Diamond Sutra, which was created in ad868. In the 11th century, movable clay type was created by a Chinese man named Bi Sheng. There's even evidence of metal movable type from Korea 70 years before Gutenberg practiced it.
Gutenberg's real achievement was in using presses to print on – this hadn't been thought of before, as presses had previously been used for products like wine. Gutenberg built highly efficient presses, which revolutionised printing techniques; 12 years after Gutenberg's death, 122 towns in Western Europe had printing presses. 

Denmark got its first printing press in 1480, but didn't let Norway have one until 1643.

T.E. LAWRENCE (1888–1935)

The printing press is the greatest weapon in the armoury of the modern commander.

The printing press was introduced to Romania by an Albanian called Basil the Wolf.

Early Prints

As soon as the printing press was invented, many stories emerged with titles like The Frightening and Truly Extraordinary Story of a Wicked Blood-Drinking Tyrant Called Prince Dracula. In fact, books about Dracula (Vlad the Impaler, who was a contemporary of Gutenberg) were second only to copies of the Bible as far as sales were concerned.
Gutenberg himself made some of his money by printing indulgences – ready-made letters granting you forgiveness for your sins. Printed indulgences meant the Church didn't have to write out thousands and thousands, and could instead just fill in the recipient's name. Another of Gutenberg's projects was making mirrors for pilgrims – it was believed at the time that if you caught the image of something holy in a mirror, the mirror would retain some of its holiness. Unfortunately, a plague outbreak meant that the pilgrimage was postponed and Gutenberg and his partners were stuck with a huge pile of useless mirrors. 

The first book to be printed in English was a translation of Raoul Le Fevre's romantic novel Recueil des Histoire de Troye.

Killed by the Press

William Bullock (1813-67) was an American inventor who came up with the web rotary printing press. The main benefit was that it could print onto paper being fed into it on a continuous roll, rather than having to be fed in by hand. It could print 10,000 sheets of paper in an hour – a huge improvement – and it could print on both sides of the paper at the same time. He patented it in 1863 and built it in 1865. Tragically, Bullock was killed by it just two years later - he became caught in the gearing while trying to fix it and then developed gangrene.

The name Imogen is a mistake. Shakespeare wrote “Innogen,” and the printer misread it.


What gunpowder did for war the printing press has done for the mind.

Hewlett-Packard printer ink is 20 times more expensive than 2003 vintage Dom Pérignon champagne.