The First Printing Press.
The first printing of any kind was done by Chinese and Japnese in the fifth century. At that time and for hundreds of years afterwards, books were so scarce and so hard to make, that few people could read or had books from which to learn.
The first printers used blocks of wood as the printing formes. Pictures were carved into their faces. The blocks were then inked and printed on the crude presses of the day. Later, words were added to the pictures, but these, too, had to be carefully carved into the wood.
A New Method!
A method was needed to shorten the long labour of hand carving each page. It took almost a thousand years before any actual change was made in the procedure used to replicate the written word.
Many men were at work on the problem. Johann Gutenberg, a German printer living in Mainz, is generally believed to be the man who first solved the problem. Gutenberg hit upon the idea of using movable metal type. The famous Gutenberg Bible was his first book, printed by this method between 1453 and 1456.
Gutenberg’s type was cast in a mould, each letter separately. When taken out of the mould, the type could be easily assembled or set in words, lines, and pages. Once set and printed, the pages were broken up, and the letters reset and used again to print other pages.
This system is still in use today, though later inventors have greatly speeded up the way in which the type is cast and set.