Stephen Fry and the Gutenberg Press

By Mark O’Neill

During the past few days, I have been laid up in bed with a leg infection and, deprived of the internet, I have been forced to watch the television (gasp!). Most of the programmes have been sub-standard crap (“Jerry! Jerry!”) but one series has been pure gold – a BBC series which I have been watching via satellite – Stephen Fry and the Gutenberg Press.

I only live 150km away from Gutenberg’s home city of Mainz, the place where he invented the world’s first printing press. Germany is extremely proud of him and rightly so because the invention of the printing press led to the mass printing of books, newspapers, pamphlets and magazines. So you could argue that Gutenberg single-handedly revolutionlized the entire publishing industry in one swoop. Before, everything was hand-written and therefore extremely slow and labor-intensive. Gutenberg invented printing machines with “movable type” that streamlined the whole process.

Below is a clip from Stephen Fry’s programme which someone posted on YouTube. If you want to find the rest, just type in “Stephen Fry + Gutenberg Press” into YouTube. All six parts are there.

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2 Responses to Stephen Fry and the Gutenberg Press

  1. You understate the impact of the printing press. Prior to it's invention knowledge was controlled, most specifically by the church who had monks which would copy books by hand. The book they copied of course was The Bible, and it was the invention of the printing press that led to Martin Luther and the reformation. So in short, it was the printing press that liberated knowledge from the The Powers That Be.

  2. You understate the impact of the printing press. Prior to it’s invention knowledge was controlled, most specifically by the church who had monks which would copy books by hand. The book they copied of course was The Bible, and it was the invention of the printing press that led to Martin Luther and the reformation. So in short, it was the printing press that liberated knowledge from the The Powers That Be.