Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Impact of the Printing Press in Human History

The invention of the printing press is almost as significant as the invention of the writing system. It is an important movement in human civilization. After alphabetical writing was invented, people were able to use it as a tool of recording, communicating, and documenting. However it was not efficient until the printing press was invented. The printing press helped people to communicate to each other economically. It also allowed knowledge to spread faster than before. In addition, typographic printing helped to centralize and stabilize the language in countries such as Germany and France.

Printing was the main factor that increased scholarship during the Renaissance. In the past, scribes took years to produce a few hundred copies of a book. A book was not only time consuming, but also expensive. Through the mechanical press, thousands of copies of books could be made in a much shorter time. In the past, only rich people and churches had the privilege to keep books. Through the printing press, the prices of books were reduced. Students and middle-class people could now afford to buy books. Learning became individual activities. Therefore, printing fostered individualism, a new and fundamental way of thinking for Western societies.

The printing of the Bible allowed almost everybody to have the chance to read the Bible. In Europe, people no longer needed to rely on the interpretations of their religious leaders. Through reading the Bible themselves, they came out with their own interpretations of the Bible. This led directly to the Reformation, which divided Christianity into hundreds of sects. Without the printing press, the Reformation might not have happened.

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