History of Type

Before the printing press, books were produced by scribes make the process of writing out an entire book more labor-intensive than you could ever imagine. It made collections a lot smaller, ten was extraordinary and a hundred was awe inspiring to any person who knew the process taken.

When movable type was introduced to the written world, everything changed.

This contribution is accredited to Johannes Gutenberg. Though there were previous advancements that were similar to Gutenberg's, he shared his invention to the world. He did not personally profit from his invention, movable type did however change the direction of typography forever.

The process he introduced went unchanged for centuries. A punch made of steel, with a mirror image of the letter is struck into a piece of softer metal. Molten metal is poured into this, and type is produced. The type is put into a matrix to form the page of text set with the margins needed, then the plate is inked and finally then pressed into paper.

It didn't take long for typesetting technology to spread across most of Europe. It happened so quickly that in the first fifty years, there were over one thousand printers in over two hundred European cities. Sometimes it is difficult to understand the revolutionary advances that occurred before the time of television, magazines, and books, but printing prior to those communications was pertinent to the media we have at our disposal. It was the first mass medium, that allowed the freedom to speech.

Many groups sought to control this new technology. Scribes fought against this introduction of new technology as it would eliminate their authority and pull in what was communicated in the media. For centuries in some European countries, books could only be printed by government authorized printers, and nothing could be printed without the approval of the Church. Printers would be held responsible rather than authors for the spread of ideas that were unwanted. In extreme cases, some people held responsible were even executed.