Chapter 5

Class 10
2. Write short notes to show what you know about: a. The Gutenberg Press b. Erasmus’s idea of the printed book c. The Vernacular Press Act.
Promo GIF


Write in Brief

Write short notes to show what you know about:

a. The Gutenberg Press

b. Erasmus’s idea of the printed book

c. The Vernacular Press Act.


(A) The Gutenberg Press :

  • It was invented by Gutenberg by adopting existing technology to design his innovation.
  • He used olive press as a model for the printing press and moulds were used for casting the metal types for the letters of the alphabet.
  • By 1448, he perfected his system. Gutenberg developed metal types for each of the 26 characters of the Roman alphabet.
  • He devised a way of moving them around so as to compose different words of the text. This came to be known as the moveable type printing machine.
  • It remained the basic print technology over the next 300 years.
  • The Gutenberg press could print 250 sheets on one side per hour.
  • The Bible was the first book that was printed by him. It took three years to print 180 copies but this was fast production at that time.

(B) Erasmus’s idea of the printed book :

Erasmus was a Latin scholar and a Catholic reformer. He criticized the excesses of Catholicism. He, however, kept his distance from Luther and did not join his movement against the Church. He was worried about printing on a large scale because he thought that some of the books might be good in contributing some useful knowledge but most of the books are slanderous, scandalous, raving, irreligious and seditious. Such books are harmful and their number is so large that even valuable books lose their value. So, he was against printing books.

(C) The Vernacular Press Act:


  • Before 1857, the East India Company encouraged publication of newspapers.
  • During the period of William Bentick, Thomas Macaulay formulated new rules that restored the earlier freedoms of the press.
  • After 1857 the Indian press began publishing a lot of information which helped in the awakening of the masses.
  • The vernacular press became nationalist. The attitude of the press enraged the Englishmen and they demanded to put restrictions on the vernacular press.
  • It was under above conditions that the Vernacular Press Act was passed in 1878. It was modeled on the Irish Press Laws. It provided the government with extensive rights to censor reports and editorials in the vernacular press. This Act was against the freedom of press and the vernacular press was kept under stringent control.
  • For example when a newspaper report was judged as seditious, the newspaper was warned, and if the warning was ignored, the press was liable to be seized and the printing machinery confiscated. But in spite of this repressive measure, the nationalist newspapers grew in numbers in all parts of the country. They went on reporting misrule of the British government in India and encouraged nationalist activities.

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