viernes, 3 de febrero de 2012

un dia como hoy

Feb. 3, 1468: Closing the Book on Gutenberg

1468: Johannes Gutenberg dies in Mainz, Germany. His name lives on.

Gutenberg made one contribution to technology in particular and to civilization in general, but it was a doozy. The printing press made the mass production of printed material possible and revolutionized human communication.

Gutenberg was born in Mainz sometime between 1394 and 1400 — his actual birth date is uncertain. A goldsmith by trade, he borrowed money from local businessmen to develop a printing press that used movable, replaceable letters made from cast metal.

Although movable type existed in China as early as the 11th century, Gutenberg’s printing press began a chain of events that altered the social and scientific history of Europe.

His press was inspired by the screw-type wine presses then common in the fertile Rhine Valley. He essentially mechanized the craft of woodblock printing, a painstaking, time-consuming process. His technology continued evolving over the centuries, and with these refinements Gutenberg’s invention has remained the cornerstone of printing to this day.

Gutenberg began using his printing press in the 1450s to produce what has come down to us as the Gutenberg Bible, a beautifully executed, two-volume folio that would have taken a talented monk months, if not years, to complete by hand. Copies of this bible sold for 30 florins, an enormous sum of money at the time.

Only 180 copies were printed, and 48 known copies still exist, in whole or part. The Library of Congress has one and the British Library two.

A 1987 auction of a Gutenberg Bible brought $4.9 million (more than $9 million in today’s green). And that was for a Volume 1 alone.

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