A young woman reading a book. She says,

Look around your home and classroom.

You''ll see things like:

📚 Books

📖 Magazines

🗞️ Newspapers

Can you imagine a time when they didn't exist?

A woman in medieval clothes saying,

What Do Monks And The Game Of Telephone Have In Common?

Until the mid-1400s, it was extremely difficult for people to share and access information.

Let's say you wanted to:

  • Tell everyone in your village about an important upcoming meeting

  • Learn a new skill like archery

  • Learn about the history of your people

  • Warn people that a war had begun

  • Send good news to your family members who lived in another town

Without printed materials, you had to count on:

Flaticon IconMessengers

Messengers traveled on horseback or by foot. They often faced dangerous traveling conditions and delivery could take many weeks.

Flaticon IconA Town Crier

It was someone's job to clang a bell and walk through the streets shouting out news and official announcements.

Flaticon IconSignals

Smoke signals, drums, and whistles provided warnings, but could be easily confused.

Flaticon IconMonks

Monks spent months or years hand-writing documents like pamphlets or books. Only the wealthy could afford these materials, and they couldn't be mass-produced.

Flaticon IconWord of Mouth

News, stories, and family history had to be communicated verbally from person to person.

Flaticon IconObservation

All teaching and training happened in-person. If you wanted to learn a new skill, you had to observe someone doing it.

The Gutenberg Press

Sktch of the Gutenberg Printing PressImage from Creative Commons

Huge changes happened in Renaissance Europe in 1440 when Johannes Gutenberg invented a mechanical printing press.

Gutenberg made individual letters out of metal, put ink on them, and placed them inside trays to form words and sentences.

Then a sheet of paper was pushed firmly onto the tray by the press, transferring the writing onto the paper.

Two men from the Renaissance using the printing press in a shop

Books and other printed materials could finally be mass-produced!

Impact

The mass production of printed materials allowed for the spread of ideas and information like never before.

It's one of the most important inventions in history because it gave people new knowledge!

A man in historical clothing in a tent. He says,

The printing press meant:

  • Ideas and information could spread to EVERYONE, not just the privileged.

  • Pamphlets, news, and bookscould be distributed worldwide.

  • Scientists could publish and share their findings, powering the Scientific Revolution.

  • Common people had a voice to express their thoughts, not just popes, kings, and queens.

Power To The People Rock n Roll GIF

Quiz

Take a guess: what era followed the invention of the printing press and the Scientific Revolution?

The Dark Ages

The Age of Exploration

The Information Age

The Age Of Enlightenment

Changes Over Time

Modern Printing Press printing newspapers GIF

The printing press improved over the centuries.

You've probably seen movies showing print shops rolling out thousands of newspapers in a single day to keep everyone informed of daily news and major events.

Textbooks, children's books, magazines, comics, and novels became important to everyday life and education.

But Has It Impacted Me In The 21st Century?

Lilly Singh GIF: Girl Yes

We're now in the Information Age!

Mass mediadifferent types of communication that reach large amounts of people in a short amount of time are part of our everyday society in the 21st Century.

Kid with a video game GIF: I kinda feel sad for the people in the past

Modern technology all began with the printing press:

  • Computers & smartphones

  • Social media

  • 3D printing & animation

  • Remote learning

These technologies allow for information to spread much more quickly and easily than even 25 years ago. Communication technology today can reach:

  • People in developing nations or areas where information may be restricted

  • People who otherwise might not be able to get an education

  • At-home learners

  • Anyone around the world! 🌎

Take Action

The printing press changed history!

As new technologies developed, every person, regardless of social status, has the opportunity to learn more about the world.

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This Byte has been authored by

MD

Mary Ellen D'Intino

Learning Designer