How Made the First Printing Press?

The first printing of any kinds was done by the Chinese and Japanese in the fifth century. At that time in for hundreds of  years afterwards, books were so scarce and so hard to make, that the few people could read or had books from which to learn. The first printers used blocks of wood as the printing forms.

Pictures were curved into their faces, the blocks were then inked and printed on the crude presses of the day. Later, words were added to the pictures, but these too, had to be carefully carved into the wood.

A method was needed to shorten the long labor of hand carving each page. It took nearly a thousand years before any real change was made in the method used to reproduce the written word. Many men were at work on the problem.


Johann Gutenberg, a German printer living in Mainz, is generally believed to be the man who first solved the problem. Gutenberg hit upon the idea of using movable metal type. He printed his first book, the famous Gutenberg Bible, by this method between 1453 and 1456.

Gutenberg’s type was cast in a mold, each letter separately. When taken out of the mold, the type could easily assembled, or “set”, in words, lines, and pages. Once set and printed, the pages were broken up, and the letters reset and used again to print other pages.

This system is still in use today, though later inventors have greatly speed up the way in which the type is cast and set.

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