Johann Gutenberg

Johann Gutenberg.  Leaf from the Gutenberg Bible. 1450-1455.

In the mid-15th century in Mainz, Germany, Johann Gutenberg brought together a number of existing technologies to become the first printer to use moveable metal type in the Western world.  The famous "Gutenberg Bible" was the first book of any substantial length to come from his press.  While the vast majority of the population was illiterate and book ownership was still beyond the financial grasp of most, this historical moment marked the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern world.  By facilitating the dissemination of human knowledge through mechanization, the printing press paved the way for the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Scientific Revolution.

Link: The British Library’s digitization.