Monday, December 16, 2013

Mapping the Spread of Printing

Johannes Gutenberg's invention of mechanical movable type printing in the 15th century was probably the most important discovery in the modern age. Gutenberg's invention arguably kick-started the Renaissance and undoubtedly led to the spread of learning among the general population in Europe.

The Atlas of Early Printing is a Google Map charting the spread of printing, from Gutenberg's first movable type printer in 1452 in Mainz to the rest of Europe by the end of the 15th century. The map includes a timeline that allows you to visualize the rise of printing presses throughout Europe over the course of the 15th century.

The map also includes a number of other layers that allow you to visualize the output of each mapped press, the location of universities in the 15th century, the location of paper mills and European trade routes.

Coincidentally, last week Oxford’s Bodleian Library released an interactive version of their copy of Gutenberg's Bible. Fewer than 50 copies survive of the first substantial book produced in the west using metal type. You can now examine the Bodleian's copy close-up on this interactive Gutenberg Bible.

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