It’s All in the Delivery
No matter how far back in history you go, humans have captured the moment and written it down, somewhere. Whether you look at the 25,000-year-old Ishango baton from the Congo that recorded a six-month lunar calendar, which was the first known non-cerebral memory device, now called a book … or the cave paintings of France … or the scrolls of the Library of Alexandria … or the retooled olive press of Mr. Gutenberg, you couldn’t find a more interesting and complex period of our industry, of information distribution, than now. OK, maybe Mr. Gutenberg’s era was pretty exciting too.
From the moment movable type was invented till just a few years ago our path was crystal clear and unavoidable. Gutenberg created movable type from soft metal, and an industry was born from the rapid distribution of information.
Did you know he swore his printing partners to secrecy? And upon their deaths, the contract read that the “idea and process” of movable type defaulted back to Gutenberg and his heirs. Nice try, Johannes. Too bad that he died in poverty. Imagine that—the man who invented the world’s first real mass-information distribution system dies in poverty.
An Irresistible Force
The growth of the printing press and the distribution of information was an irresistible force, whose only combatant at the time was ignorance and what seems to us now extremely limited technology.
Of course that limitation is only apparent to us as we look back with tremendous hindsight. The technology of that day was nothing less than amazing, as is our reaching out to the stars. It took a single scribe over a year to copy a single book. Did you know that it took 200 to 300 sheepskins to make a bible? And there was no “preflighting” and “spell checking” to make sure that the scribe got it right.