The xylograph was known since the 14th century. However, this technique was limited. Johannes Gutenberg (1400-1468) was aware that every text is dissectible in elementary forms (such as letters, numbers and texts). With a hand mould he developed a way to press the text’s elements via a tile right onto the medium, while the hand mould did not move. A mixture of soot and linseed oil was needed for the colour.
There is very little known about Gutenberg himself. He was born in Mainz and he worked in Strasbourg and in his native town. The oldest printed texts are a Latin grammar, an indulgence letter, a Turkish calendar and a 42-lines of the Bible. The art of printing spread quickly, although the technicalities of printing were a cost-intensive undertaking. The oldest printing presses were called Incunables. Through the art of printing and humanism an increase of knowledge took place at the beginning of the 16th century. Until the Reformation, books written in Latin dominated the market.
The art of printing revived further through the expansion of reformatorical texts. The pamphlet was the mass media of the Reformation. Among others theses, disputations, polemical writings, sermons, dialogues and commentaries were printed in the common languages. In the twenties of the 16th century Martin Luther was the most printed author. The Diet of Worms, which banned spreading the books of Luther, could not hold back the flood of literature. Through reading aloud by those literate, other people could also understand the texts. For the printer the economic principle of supply and demand was important. The buyer decided which texts remained on the market, which meant that the importance of the common consumer increased.