Excerpts from the book "TRAMP PRINTERS"
by John Howells and Marion Dearman
(Discovery Press, copyright 1996)
out of print, all rights reserved
“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.”
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.
—SIR FRANCIS BACON, 15th Century
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
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.