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Word Count: 575
In the early 1450s rapid cultural change in Europe fueled a growing need for the rapid and cheap production of written documents Johannes Gutenberg a goldsmith and businessman from the mining town of Mainz in southern Germany borrowed money to develop a technology that could address this serious economic bottleneck Gutenberg foresaw enormous profit-making potential for a printing press that used movable metal type Gutenberg developed his press by combining features of existing technologies textile papermaking and wine presses Perhaps his most significant innovation however was the efficient molding and casting of movable metal type Each letter was carved into the end of a steel punch which was then hammered into a copper blank The copper impression was inserted into a mold and a molten alloy made of lead antimony and bismuth was poured in The alloy cooled quickly and the resulting reverse image of the letter attached to a lead base could be handled in minutes In 1476 William Caxton set up Englands first printing press Caxton had been a prolific translator and found the printing press to be a marvelous way to amplify his mission of promoting popular literature Caxton printed and distributed a variety of widely appealing narrative titles including the first popular edition of Chaucers The Canterbury Tales Caxton was an enthusiastic editor and he determined the diction spelling and usage for all the books he printed He realized that English suffered from so much regional variation that many people couldnt communicate with others from their own country Caxtons contributions as an editor and printer won him a good portion of the credit for standardizing the English language The printing press encouraged the pursuit of personal privacy Less expensive and more portable books lent themselves to solitary and silent reading This orientation to privacy was part of an emphasis on individual rights and freedoms that print helped to develop Print facilitated a focus on fixed verifiable truth and
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