The Printed Book -- the Invisible Machine

Gutenberg's press

Hand-set printing with movable type permits readers widely separated in time and space to encounter the essentially same text -- and hence creates a new kind of virtual community of readers and many other things basic to modern culture.

Printing exemplifies asynchronous, silent communication.

High-speed printing, invented in the nineteenth century, truly democratizes asynchronous, silent communication, producing many of our conceptions of self, intellectual property, and education.

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Last modified 1 February 2005