Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press (circa 1440) employed a large threaded screw, based on the wine press, to wind a platen slowly down onto paper placed over inked metal letters set into a form or bed.
Fifty years later, in da Vinci’s design, turning the screw draws both type-bed and paper up under the platen and provides the pressure to print, then in reverse releases the bed and paper. One operator rather than three would control this process and was an innovation not put into practice for another century.
The manual lever press of the early 19th century allowed a large page to be printed in a single movement, and the steam powered rotary press of 1826 enabled printing on an industrial scale.
Da Vinci lived in an era when paper and the printed page were for the privileged few. Could he have imagined our increasingly paperless society
and the screen based, continuously connected digital age?
Photo: everythingpossible / Shutterstock.com
Photo: jamiga images / Shutterstock.com
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