Bible (leaf): Gutenberg, Johannes: circa 1450

Ask a westerner who invented printing, and most will say Johannes Gutenberg. This is a leaf (a single page) from the first book published in the west, the Gutenberg Bible. Published around 1450, it was the first known book printed outside of Asia with movable type. The oldest known printed book is dated to the year 868, but 400 years before Gutenberg, around 1040, the first known movable type system was created in China by Bi Sheng out of porcelain. Metal movable type was first invented in Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty (around 1230). Neither movable type system was widely used – one reason being the enormous Chinese character set. Gutenberg did invent the first scalable system of movable type full-page printing, using durable metal type with a unique alloy of metals, an innovative press, oil-based inks and an entirely new way to cast metal type with high precision on short notice. The high quality and relatively low price of his books lead to printing presses rapidly spreading across Europe with thousands of presses within 30 years. His man-powered technology and process lasted well over 300 years and is responsible for unleashing the modern age of the book. Today, practically all movable-type printing derives from Gutenberg’s work, and is often regarded as the most important invention of the 2nd millennium.