The Gutenberg Printing Press
The printing press was invented by a German named Johannes Gutenberg around the year 1450. Prior to the invention of the printing press, all books and other materials had to be written by hand, usually by monks and other people in the Church. This was very time consuming and made books very expensive. As a result, only wealthy people could afford to have books and many people never learned to read at all.
When Gutenberg invented the printing press, he invented a system called movable type. This meant that small metal letters could be arranged to make a page of writing and then stamped onto the paper by the press. This way, a lot of copies of each page could be made quickly.
The printing press had an enormous impact on Europe and the world. Because books and other print materials, such as newspapers, were readily available, they became more affordable too. This meant that a lot more people had access to printed information. This allowed information to spread much farther and faster than ever before. As a result, people learned about what was happening in the news and about developments in society. And in the long run, this access to information increased literacy rates throughout much of Europe. The printing press even paved the way for major changes such as the Protestant Reformation.