The printing press was one of the most important inventions for mechanical engineering and the population at large. Johannes Gutenberg’s machine was groundbreaking in its own time and set the stage for enormous advancements made during the Renaissance and Industrial Revolution.
Movable type printing had been around for some time before Gutenberg, notably in China, but his device was the first to mechanize the process of applying text and images to paper en masse.
Gutenberg’s press was modeled on the ancient wine presses of the Mediterranean and in fact, was made from a modified wine press. It was also developed on the existing presses of the medieval period.
His press worked by rolling ink over a pre-arranged raised surface of movable text held within a wooden frame. This was then pressed against a sheet of paper to create a copy.
This process was vastly more efficient than other presses of the time not to mention the previous process of hand copying books.
The press would allow books to be produced more quickly, and, most importantly, cheaper, enabling more and more people to afford to buy them. This would mark a watershed in human and engineering history.