Pressing Issue
10 Feb 2023

A beautiful old printing press. In many ways it is such a simple, almost obvious idea. And yet for the longest time, no one thought of it.

The impact of this machine is so massive it almost can’t be conceived. Forget the internet… it was… relative to its time and place, much bigger than the internet. Without it there would have been no internet, potentially no computers either – certainly not one in every office and home.

What gunpowder did for war – the printing press did for the mind, said one Wendell Phillips.

And indeed – the ability to mass replicate ideas, knowledge, arguments, stories, rules – and spread that around – was a leap for our species that has not been equalled before or since in terms of its scope and importance.

You can just imagine this beautiful, sturdy and ornate piece of equipment within its own time and place. You can imagine the operator pressing down on it. And can you also imagine the excitement in the air; the power, promise and potential hanging across the entire era? Can you feel the monumental shift across the entire world as the rarest, most sublime, most advanced thoughts are captured and spread – cheaply – to the twelve corners of the world?