Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why printing?

Why was printing invented? Because of the plague. Between 1347 and 1400 waves of plague ravaged Europe, decimating the population by about 30 percent. Consequently there was a labor shortage and salaries rose.

This sparked an intensive demand for technological inventions, and printing, or more precisely moveable type, was one of them. The tedious and time consuming manual copying of documents no longer made economic sense when Hans Genssefleisch von Mentz, also known as Gutenberg, around 1400 started experimenting with type.

Fonts were just a rudimentary idea of individually carved wood blocks, but the enterpreneurial Gutenberg and a few skilled colleagues founded a financing partnership, which rised substantial capital to develop the new technology of mass-produced reusable metal font types.

It ended up taking 10 years until the venture was able to print the first documents using the new technology and sell them for a profit.

Could Gutenberg repeat his feat today?