Excerpts from the book "TRAMP PRINTERS"
by John Howells and Marion Dearman

(Discovery Press, copyright 1996)
out of print, all rights reserved

Invention of Printing

“We should note the force, effect and consequences of inventions which are nowhere more conspicuous than those three which were unknown to the ancients, namely, printing, gunpowder, and the compass. For these three have changed the appearance and state of the whole world.”

—SIR FRANCIS BACON, 15th Century

EVEN THOUGH THE COMPASS enabled sailors to explore the world, and gunpowder empowered soldiers to force their nations’ will upon those lacking sufficient firepower, printing was the most revolutionary invention of all. Printing made possible a widespread distribution of information, ideas and theory. It proved to be an efficient and inexpensive way of preserving knowledge for posterity. After printing dramatically slashed the cost of books, libraries grew in body and complexity with each succeeding generation.

As information accumulated, new inventions and technology developed from this growing reservoir of data. Science and technology expanded at an ever increasing rate. Eventually even gunpowder became obsolete, replaced by nuclear weapons. Compasses have been made obsolete by electronic devices that can mark your place on the earth with an accuracy of a few feet. None of this could have happened unless scientists had access to printed books, technical journals, dissertations and reports available in libraries.

Without easy access to this storehouse of information, recording of events, discoveries and technological breakthroughs, the world would surely be a different place today. At least 80 percent of what we know comes from printed words. Political writings have prompted far more historical changes than gunpowder.

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