I took it upon myself to look up the greatest inventions of all time, and to my surprise not everyone agrees with me. Please bear in mind that this research was not at all extensive, but merely to get an idea. I could not find a single list which lists the printing press as the number one greatest invention of all time! The closest it got was reaching number 3 in news.softpedia.com’s list.
Toptenz.com sees the printing press in the number 5 spot.
Reality pod lists the printing press in number 9, as does listverse.com and Askmen.com! This surprised me. I didn’t figure men would even consider the printing press what with the automobile, ESPN and all…impressive guys!
About.com doesn’t even feature the printing press! It does, however, feature penicillin, which can kill me. I don't like this list.
So, what we know about the printing press is that it was invented in 1436 by this German fellow named Johannes Gutenberg and was completed by 1440 approximately.
Gutenberg was the first person to make type from an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony - essential for producing durable type that produced high-quality printed books. He also introduced oil-based ink which was more durable than previously used water-based inks.
The first major book that was printed was, as I'm sure you know, The Gutenberg Bible which was printed in the 1450's and marked the start of the so-called Gutenberg Revolution and the subsequent era of the printed book.
A copy of the Gutenberg Bible which can be found in the New York Public Library
Today printing is a large scale industrial process which sees most books and newspapers printed using the technique of offset lithography, which looks a little something like this:
Acording to Wikipedia "across the world over 45 trillion pages are printed annually (2005 figure). In 2006 there were approximately 30,700 printing companies in the United States, accounting for $112 billion according to the 2006 U.S. Industry & Market Outlook by Barnes Reports. Print jobs that move through the Internet made up 12.5% of the total U.S. printing market last year, according to research firm InfoTrend/CAP Ventures".
Bottom line: Long live the printing press!
Happy reading xxx