In the 1430’s a man named Johann Gutenberg created the predecessor to the modern printing press. The level of importance of the printing press is rivaled by few other inventions, so much so that “the invention of the printing press” is often used as a reference to the social, political, and scientific change experienced by Europe after the press’s introduction. (Wikipedia). Johannes Gutenberg invented a mechanical way of making books. This was the first example of mass book production. Before the invention of printing, multiple copies of a manuscript had to be made by hand, a laborious task that could take many years. Later books were produced by and for the church using the process of wood engraving. This required the craftsman to cut away the background, leaving the area to be printed raised. This process applied to both text and illustrations was extremely time consuming. When a page was complete, often by joining several blocks together, it would be inked and a sheet of paper was then pressed over it far an imprint. The susceptibility of wood to the elements gave such blocks a limited lifespan. When Johannes Gutenberg began building his press in 1436, he was unlikely to have realized that he was giving birth to an art form which would take center stage in the social and industrial revolutions which followed. The most important aspect of his invention was that it was the first form of printing to use movable type. His initial efforts enabled him in 1440 to mass-produce indulgences – printed slips of paper sold by the Catholic Church to remit temporal punishments in purgatory for sins committed in this life, for those wealthy enough to afford indulgences. Gutenberg’s invention spread rapidly after his death in 1468. It met in general with a ready, and as enthusiastic reception in the centers of culture. The names of more than 1000 printers, mostly of German origin, have come down to us from the fifteenth century. In Italy we find well over 100 German printers, in France 30, in Spain 26. Many of the earliest printers outside of Germany had learned their art in Mainz Gutenberg’s Home and where they were know as “goldsmiths”. Among those who were undeniably pupils of Gutenberg, and who probably were also assistants in the Guttenberg printing ouse. The new printing presses had spread like brushfire through Europe. By 1499 print-houses had become established in more than 2500 cities in Europe. Fifteen million books had been flung into a world where scholars would travel miles to visit a library stocked with twenty hand-written volumes. Scholars argue about the number. It could’ve been as few as eight million or as many as twenty four million all within 50 years of the printing presses invention. But the output of new books had been staggering by any reasonable estimate. The people had suddenly come into possession of some thirty thousand new book titles. While the Gutenberg press was much more efficient than manual copying, the industrial Revolution and the introduction of the steam powered rotary press allowed thousands of copies of a page in a single day. Mass production of printed works flourished after the transition to rolled paper, as continuous feed allowed the presses to run at a much faster pace. Gutenberg’s invention did not make him rich, but it laid the foundation for the commercial mass production of books. The success of printing meant that books soon became cheaper, and ever wider parts of the population could afford them. More than ever before, it enabled people to follow debates and take part in discussion of matters that concerned them. As a consequence, the printed book also led to more stringent attempts at censorship. This was a sign that it was felt by those in authority to be dangerous and challenging to their position. The spread of literacy and the development of universities meant that by the 15th century, despite an assembly line approach to the production of books, supply was no longer able to meet demand. As a result there was widespread interest in finding an alternative means of producing books. Before books could be mass produced, several developments were necessary. A ready supply of suitable material that could be printed on was required. Manuscript books were written on Vellum and this material was used for some early printed books, but vellum was expensive and not available in sufficient quantity for the mass production of books. The introduction of the technique of making paper and the subsequent development of a European apermaking industry was a necessary condition for the widespread adoption of print technology. Although a number of people had previously attempted to make metal type or had experimented with individual woodcut letters, it was not until a technique was devised for producing metal type in large quantities at a reasonable cost. This involved the design of a type-face and the production of molds used for making the individual pieces of type as well as the development of an alloy that was soft enough to cast yet hard enough to use for printing. It was also necessary to develop suitable inks for printing with the new type. The water-based inks used for hand lettering and for block printing will not stick to metal type; therefore a viscous oil based ink was required. Finally, a press was needed for transferring the image from type to paper. Precedents existed in the presses used for making wine, cheese and paper and one of Johannes Gutenberg’s innovations was to adapt these presses for the printing process. An operator worked a lever to increase and decrease the pressure of the block against the paper. The invention of the printing press, in turn, set off a revolution that is still in progress today. Look around wherever you are, and you’ll likely find plenty of printed material, from business cards to brochures to books. Printing words and images on paper may seem like one of the more environmentally benign things that printing does, but that isn’t necessarily the case. If you examine the life cycle of printed matter – from turning trees into paper through the witch’s brew of chemicals involved -- professional printing takes on a decidedly non-green hue. Typically, the process involves a variety of inks, solvents, acids, resins, lacquers, dyes, driers, extenders, modifiers, varnishes, shellacs, and other solutions. Only a few of these ingredients end up directly on the printed page. Many of the ingredients are toxic: Silver, lead, chromium, cadmium, toluene, chloroform, methylene chloride, barium-based pigments, and acrylic copolymers. And that’s mot all. Chlorine bleaching of paper is linked to cancer-causing water pollutants. Waste inks and solvents are usually considered hazardous. Bindings, adhesives, foils, and plastic bags used in printing or packaging printed material can render paper unrecyclable. And you thought it was just ink on paper. Not everyone defines “green printing” the same way and there is no standard of certification for what makes a printer green. There are several things a printer can do to minimize the detrimental effects to the environment. In general, an environmentally minded printer should use the most eco-friendly papers available, reduce or eliminate toxic chemicals, waste ink, and solvents. The printer should also be willing to use soy or other vegetable inks, educate customers about how to reduce a project’s environmental impact. Green printing is on a roll, moving beyond small, do-good companies and activist groups to larger corporations and government agencies that have mandates to purchase greener goods and services. As demand for green printing has grown, so too has the number of printers offering such services. Many printers now days can recycle up to 98% of there wastes and more and more or doing just that. Life magazine called the printing press the greatest invention in the last 1000 years.