Good Reading : December January 2011
22 goodreading ı DECEMBER 2010/ JANUARY 2011 Genius: Great inventors and their creations gives you a fascinating peek into the minds and lives of some of the most creative people who have shaped the modern world. Starting with Archimedes, the ancient Greek who invented the pump known as the Archimedean Screw, through to less well-known people, such as 17th-century Dutchman Cornelius Drebbel, designer and builder of the first submarine, this book will entertain and inform you as you learn more about the lives and creative process of the inventors of photography, the car, television, chemotherapy, the internet and much more. JOHANNES GUTENBERG (c. 1400 — 3 February 1468) It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the printing press in the history of the world. The mass- production of books made them cheaper and more accessible, which promoted literacy and the spread of ideas.The creator of this influential new technology was a German goldsmith named Johannes Gutenberg. Little is known of the early life of Johannes (or Johann) Gutenberg. It is known that he was bor n in Mainz, Germany, around 1400, and that he came from the privileged, governing elite. He attended university, where he would have come into contact with books, and he trained as a goldsmith. Around 1420, several families were exiled from Mainz after a rebellion by the tax-paying middle class. Gutenberg's was among them, and he travelled to Strasbourg, where he was involved in several ventures. One of them, he told his financial backers, was 'a secret'. It is very likely that this secret was the development of the printing press. At the time, nearly all books were painstakingly written out by scribes. Books, therefore, were rare and extremely expensive, and literacy was confined to religious and political leaders.Woodblock printing produced a few books -- but each block, representing a whole page, had to be carved in its entirety. Gutenberg's important innovation, 'moveable type', changed all that. Moveable type is a system of printing in which a page of text is arranged in a frame, or matrix, by slotting in individual raised letters.The letters are then inked and pressed onto paper. It was BOOKBITE 2 by Jack Challoner strokes of genius Left:Portrait of Johannes Gutenberg, 1584. Gutenberg’s printing press made it possible to mass-produce books, enabling the rapid spread of new ideas. His most important invention was the hand mould, in which he cast copies of individual letters from an alloy of lead, tin and antimony. Below: A type case filled with large, decorative moveable type in a reconstruction of Gutenberg’s printing workshop at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany. A printer would slot these individual pieces of type into a frame, to represent the text of one page of a book. Above: Coloured 19th-century artist’s impression of a scene in Gutenberg’s workshop (artist unknown). Gutenberg, bearded, is shown in the foreground, checking a printed page. There would actually have been about 20 people working in the workshop at any one time.