Probably one of the most important times in human history occured in the 15th and 16th Centuries in Europe. Before this time man was still living in the dark ages. They were ruled by the Catholic Church and noblity class that was content to leave the masses uneducated and easily controled. But a new invention by a unknown German goldsmith would change all that and help to propel the human race toward an age of enlightenment.
When Johann Gutenberg started up his moveable type printing press in 1450, he started a new page in the history book of the human race. Little did he know at the time that his machine would be the single most import invention of all time. With the printing press, books could be produced in large numbers and distributed to the masses. No longer would it takes days or weeks to produce a book scribed by hand, which was an expensive process. A single volume could be printed in hours. This was the key to unlock knowlege and improve the human existance.
With this growing knowlege man began to question his existance. For the first time man was looking inward. This gave rise to humanism. The impact of the humanist movement was felt strongest in the arts. When the printing press unlocked knowlege, man began to turn away from the church and look at himself more closely. The arts, particulaly painting and sculpture, catered to this interest. More and more artist worked with themes that reflected everyday life. There were more artworks that looked at the human body and how it worked. There was also a rise in what the human body looked like without all the artificial skins. All this was fuel for the Renaissance movement.
The printing press and the rise of humanism opened another door, a door to creativity. The Renaissance and High Renaissance artist stepped through that opening. No longer was the artist in any medium chained to the church. Now they were free to explore new ideas and revisit some old ones as well. Not only was the masses interested in themselves and the things around them but they were also interested in the past. Interest in the Greek and Roman empires were a growing theme for artist. Some of the great masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo not only persued art but also the sciences as well. Little by little the church was losing its stronghold on the human existence. And a new movement in the early 16th century would further contribute to this lose of power.
When a little know priest in Germany nailed a 95 point thesis to the door of a church, the stronghold of the Catholic church would become so weakened that a warrent for his arrest was issued by the church. By this act of defiance, Martin Luther would begin the Protestant Reformation. Luther was very upset with the levels of coruption in the Catholic church and set about to change the church. He went about translating the Bible into German so the masses could read and interpret the words for themselves. His greatest tool to get the Bible was the printing press. Without it Luther and the Reformation might not had happened.
So Humanism, the Renaissancem, and the Reformation are all linked to the printing press. Without this invention these movements would not have had the abilties to get to the masses and change the course of humankind. Was the printing press the single most important invention in human history? Most definently!