Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley
Printing is the mass production of the written word. The Chinese invented wooden print blocks in the 8th century. In the West, all books were written by hand until Johann Gutenberg invented movable type around 1450.
Movable metal type—letter molds that can be put together to make words, then taken apart and reused—made printing faster. Combined with the spread of literacy and the new affordability of books, this made information and literature available to the masses. Today, computers and digital technology have replaced movable type and speeded up printing again.