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An 1835 woodcarving of a printing press

Printing is a process for mass reproducing text and images using a master form or template. The earliest non-paper products involving printing include cylinder seals and objects such as the Cyrus Cylinder and the Cylinders of Nabonidus. The earliest known form of printing as applied to paper was woodblock printing, which appeared in China before 220 AD for cloth printing. However, it would not be applied to paper until the seventh century. Later developments in printing technology include the movable type invented by Bi Sheng around 1040 AD and the printing press invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century. The technology of printing played a key role in the development of the Renaissance and the [[w:Scientific Revolution]|] and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy and the spread of learning to the masses.


  • He who first shortened the labor of Copyists by device of Movable Types was disbanding hired Armies and cashiering most Kings and Senates, and creating a whole new Democratic world: he had invented the Art of printing.
  • Transforms old print
    To zigzag manuscript, and cheats the eyes
    Of gallery critics by a thousand arts.
  • It is remarkable that whilst the Doctors of the Sorbonne were urging Francis the First absolutely to suppress printing even as late as 1533 and whilst this enlightened monarch had actually issued letters-patent January 3 1535 prohibiting under pain of death any person to print any book or books, and ordering all booksellers' shops to be closed under the same penalty, the Jews should have hailed with delight this invention as a Divine gift and sung its praises because it enabled them to multiply and circulate the word of God.
  • The discovery of the art of Printing unbarred afresh the gates of Heaven, and let in that flood of light, of knowledge, and of wisdom, which enabled men to emancipate themselves again from the slavery of superstition—to take their proper place in the ranks of created beings—and in ennobling themselves, in gradually exalting their understandings and amending their hearts, to pay at length the worthiest homage to the goodness of their common Parent, and prove themselves to be—as the Almighty himself originally formed them—inferior only to the Angels.
    • Sir William Hamilton, The History of Medicine, Surgery, and Anatomy, from the Creation of the World, to the Commencement of the Nineteenth Century (1831) Vol. 1
  • After the birth of printing books became widespread. Hence everyone throughout Europe devoted himself to the study of literature... Every year, especially since 1563, the number of writings published in every field is greater than all those produced in the past thousand years. Through them there has today been created a new theology and a new jurisprudence; the Paracelsians have created medicine anew and the Copernicans have created astronomy anew. I really believe that at last the world is alive, indeed seething, and that the stimuli of these remarkable conjunctions did not act in vain.
    • Johannes Kepler, De Stella Nova, On the New Star (1606), Johannes Kepler Gesammelte Werke (1937- ), Vol. 1, 330-2. Quoted in N. Jardine, The Birth of History and Philosophy of Science: Kepler's A Defence of Tycho Against Ursus With Essays on its Provenance and Significance (1984), 277-8.
  • Every school boy and school girl who has arrived at the age of reflection ought to know something about the history of the art of printing, papermaking, and so forth. … All children will work better if pleased with their tools; and there are no tools more ingeniously wrought, or more potent than those which belong to the art of the printer. Dynasties and governments used to be attacked and defended by arms; now the attack and the defence are mainly carried on by types. To sustain any scheme of state policy, to uphold one administration or to demolish another, types, not soldiers, are brought into line. Hostile parties, and sometimes hostile nations, instead of fitting out martial or naval expeditions, establish printing presses, and discharge pamphlets or octavoes at each other, instead of cannon balls. The poniard and the stiletto were once the resource of a murderous spirit; now the vengeance, which formerly would assassinate in the dark, libels character, in the light of day, through the medium of the press.
    But through this instrumentality good can be wrought as well as evil.
    Knowledge can be acquired, diffused, perpetuated. An invisible, inaudible, intangible thought in the silent chambers of the mind, breaks away from its confinement, becomes imbodied in a sign, is multiplied by myriads, traverses the earth, and goes resounding down to the latest posterity.
    • Horace Mann "Printing and Paper Making" in The Common School Journal Vol. V, No. 3 (1 February 1843)
  • Though an angel should write, still 'tis devils must print.
    • Thomas Moore, The Fudge Family in England (1835), Letter III.
  • It was William Morris who in modern times first joined these two words [bookmaking and art] together by the publication of his magnificent Kelmscott volumes. Such type, such decorations, such presswork, such sheer, composite beauty! ... from the very beginning Morris' innovations showed the world that printing still belonged among the fine arts.
  • Thou hast most traitorously corrupted the youth of the realm in erecting a grammar school: and whereas, before, our forefathers had no other books but the score and the tally, thou hast caused printing to be used, and, contrary to the king, his crown and dignity, thou hast built a paper-mill.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 633-34.
  • Memoriæ sacrum
    Ars artium omnium
    Hic primum inventa
    Circa annum MCCCCXL.
    • Sacred to the memory of printing, the art preservative of all arts. This was first invented about the year 1440.
    • Inscription on the façade of the house once occupied by Laurent Koster at Harlem. "The art preservative of all arts," probably taken from this.
  • I'll print it,
    And shame the fools.
  • The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works at his case,
    He turns his quid of tobacco, while his eyes blur with the manuscript.
    • Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman, Part XV, Stanza 77.
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