Mirror image transfer has been known to mankind since ancient times: Sumerian cylinder seals, cartouches of Egyptian pharaohs, coinage, etc.
Printing itself originated more than a thousand years ago. The first printed text is the Diamond Sutra, 868.
In the 10th century Chinese craftsmen used wooden bars with carved hieroglyphs to transfer images to paper. In 1042, the Chinese blacksmith Bi Shen invented typesetting, but the method did not become widespread due to the number of hieroglyphs needed for typing: more than 40,000.
Mass printing took place after the appearance of the Gutenberg printing press, which managed to unite various practices and make printing simple and affordable process.
Johann Gutenberg was born at the beginning of the 15th century. He became a jeweler and lived in Strasbourg, making mirrors and polishing precious stones.
According to eyewitnesses, already in 1438, work was underway in Gutenberg’s workshop on the prototype of the printing press.
In 1448, Gutenberg moved to Mainz, where he borrowed 1,600 guilders to develop a mechanism, the description of which was a trade secret.
Johann’s creditors were his cousin Arnold Geltus and the Mainz merchant Johann Fust.
For the printing press, Gutenberg needed a mechanism with uniform pressure over the area of the sheet. With a movable carriage to arrange the table with the set. With precise fixation of the paper over the letters of the text. With a typesetting cash register that allows the creation of hundreds and thousands of prints without deforming the letters.
Johann used an alloy of lead, tin and antimony. The alloy had a high fluidity for filling molds and the strength required for printing. A mixture of oil and writing ink was used for printing ink. As a basis for the press, Johann took a wine press, which he provided with a carriage with a belt drive. Gutenberg’s main invention was the creation of a typeface for a typesetting cash register. Using a small set of characters, the printer could create any texts in arbitrary quantities.
To make one letter, the master engraved a convex, mirror image of the printed sign on the end of a metal bar — punch. Then the punch was pressed into the soft copper with which the casting of the letter was made. This is how the letter matrix was created. With the help of one punch it was possible to easily obtain additional matrices and to cast the required number of letters from each matrix.
In the middle of the fifteenth century, the first works of the printing house were published. They became calendars, indulgences, the Latin grammar of Elia Donata. In 1454 Gutenberg’s main book, the Bible, was printed. Two folios of one thousand two hundred and eighty-two pages with a set of forty-two lines.
In 1455 Johann Fust demanded repayment of the debt with interest and sued Gutenberg. Peter Schaeffer, Gutenberg’s best printer, testified against the latter in the court. By a court decision, the printing house with all the equipment, fonts and a set of Bibles was transferred to Fust.
Fust hired Peter, a former Gutenberg printer, and continued the successful operation of the printing house. Peter Schaeffer married the daughter of Johann Fust, their sons, Johann and Peter Jr., also devoted their lives to printing.
Gutenberg was expelled from Mainz and only three years before his death, the printer was allowed to return to the city. Johann entered the service of the Archbishop of Nausaut and published several more books.
On February 3, 1468, Johann Gutenberg died in Mainz.
Before the advent of the printed press, books were copied by hand and were the property of the church and the aristocracy. In medieval Europe, there were about 30,000 books that belonged to rare artifacts, relics, the property of the chosen masters.
Thanks to Gutenberg’s invention in 1500, there were more than 9 million books in Europe, which to a certain extent liberated the consciousness of society. Over the course of a hundred years, printing houses have spread throughout Europe: from Moscow in the east to Lisbon in the west.
Gutenberg’s printing press made the paper word accessible and significantly accelerated the spread of scientific, secular and educational literature.