Sunday, February 23, 2014

This Day in History

On February 23, 1455...

...Johannes Gutenberg invented the Internet.

Well, of course he didn't! Look at the above picture. Think that's how they do things at Google? Why, they're not even sitting on bean bags!

However, you could argue that the Bible that first came off Gutenberg's newly invented printing press on this day in 1455 (according to tradition, i.e., no one has a clue) inevitably led to the Internet. No, God did not say "Let there be!" That link doesn't even bring you to the right place. It's not so much that it was a bible but a book. The first mass produced book, which meant that for the first time reading material wasn't just available to the wealthy few but the public at large. Of course, the public at large first had to learn how to read. That took time. Several centuries in fact. The few poor that did know how to read took to pamphleteering, thus becoming the first bloggers. Some people burned books. They were the first trolls.

Newspapers cropped up. Here's one from September 10, 1666:

Hard to read, I know. So I'll just quote what a London paper boy said that day: "Extra! Extra! Read all about it! We're on fire!"

Just as important, school books popped up. Several centuries later, when the powerful elite finally said, "We better educate the masses or how else are they going to read their eviction notices?", report cards were mass produced for the very first time (some of us have never forgiven Gutenberg for that.)

The more people read, the more widely information was disseminated. Scientific principles were discovered and passed about. Inventions were invented: the steam engine, the telegraph, the telephone, the light bulb, the internal-combustion engine, the airplane, radio (for some reason that doesn't sound right with a "the" in front of it), television (ditto), until, finally, and this I can qualify with a "the", the computer! Which of course led to Al Gore inven--proposing legislation signed into law creating the Internet. So popular has the Internet become we no longer need pamphlets, newspapers, or school books, finally freeing us to dismantle all those damn presses and sell the copper for top dollar, or bitcoin.

And just think, it all started with a Bible.

  No word on when the first hotel room was invented, or whether Gutenberg ever stayed there.


  1. How different would the world be if that first book had been Plato's 'Republic'?

  2. I guess we'd have dead philosopher-kings on all our money, notacynic.

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In order to keep the hucksters, humbugs, scoundrels, psychos, morons, and last but not least, artificial intelligentsia at bay, I have decided to turn on comment moderation. On the plus side, I've gotten rid of the word verification.