The World’s Oldest Printed Book

When, in about 1455, Gutenberg printed his Bible it was hailed as a major technological and cultural achievement and for centuries after was considered to be one of the pivotal moments in human history. Before the invention of printing all documents had to be written by hand; a long and laborious process. But worse still, as scribes wrote out each word, their eyes aching from the strain, they often made mistakes – spelling errors, missing words, sometimes even missing whole lines – which were all included in the next copy, or inaccurately ‘corrected’ by the next copyist, and thus infecting books with hundreds of errors and making some parts of the text obscure. In the early 20th century Gutenberg lost his pioneer status because of a most unusual way, under most curious circumstances and by a most unexpected individual.


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