Global spread of the printing press

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Spread of printing in Europe in the 15th century
European output of printed books from the 15th through the 18th century

The global spread of the printing press began with the invention of the printing press with movable type by Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany c. 1439.[1] Western printing technology was adopted in all world regions by the end of the 19th century, displacing the manuscript and block printing.

In the Western world, the operation of a press became synonymous with the enterprise of publishing and lent its name to a new branch of media, the "press" (see List of the oldest newspapers).[2]

Spread of the Gutenberg press[edit]


Modern stamp commemorating the Gutenberg Bible, the first major European work printed by mechanical movable type

Gutenberg's first major print work was the 42-line Bible in Latin, printed probably between 1452 and 1454 in the German city of Mainz. After Gutenberg lost a lawsuit against his investor, Johann Fust, Fust put Gutenberg's employee Peter Schöffer in charge of the print shop. Thereupon Gutenberg established a new one with the financial backing of another money lender. With Gutenberg's monopoly revoked, and the technology no longer secret, printing spread throughout Germany and beyond, diffused first by emigrating German printers, but soon also by foreign apprentices.


In rapid succession, printing presses were set up in Central and Western Europe. Major towns, in particular, functioned as centers of diffusion (Cologne 1466, Rome 1467, Venice 1469, Paris 1470, Buda 1473, Kraków 1473, London 1477). In 1481, barely 30 years after the publication of the 42-line Bible, the small Netherlands already featured printing shops in 21 cities and towns, while Italy and Germany each had shops in about 40 towns at that time. According to one estimate, "by 1500, 1000 printing presses were in operation throughout Western Europe and had produced 8 million books"[3] and during the 1550s there were "three hundred or more" printers and booksellers in Geneva alone.[4] The output was in the order of twenty million volumes and rose in the sixteenth century tenfold to between 150 and 200 million copies.[5] Germany and Italy were considered the two main centres of printing in terms of quantity and quality.

Rest of the world[edit]

The near-simultaneous discovery of sea routes to the West (Christopher Columbus, 1492) and East (Vasco da Gama, 1498) and the subsequent establishment of trade links greatly facilitated the global spread of Gutenberg-style printing. Traders, colonists, but perhaps most importantly, missionaries exported printing presses to the new European oversea domains, setting up new print shops and distributing printing material. In the Americas, the first extra-European print shop was founded in Mexico City in 1544 (1539?), and soon after Jesuits started operating the first printing press[citation needed] in Asia (Goa, 1556).

For a long time, however, movable type printing remained mainly the business of Europeans working from within the confines of their colonies.[citation needed] According to Suraiya Faroqhi, lack of interest and religious reasons were among the reasons for the slow adoption of the printing press outside Europe: Thus, printing in the Arabic script, after encountering strong opposition by Muslim legal scholars and manuscript scribes, remained formally or informally prohibited in the Ottoman Empire between 1483 and 1729, according to some sources even on penalty of death,[6][7][8] while some movable Arabic type printing was done by Pope Julius II (1503−1512) for distribution among Middle Eastern Christians,[9] and the oldest Qur’an printed with movable type was produced in Venice in 1537/1538 for the Ottoman market.

Hebrew texts and presses were imported across the Middle East - as early as 1493 - Constantinople, Fez (1516), Cairo (1557) and Safed (1577). Disquiet among Muslims regarding the publication of religious texts in this way may have dampened down their production.[10]

In India, reports are that Jesuits "presented a polyglot Bible to the Emperor Akbar in 1580 but did not succeed in arousing much curiosity."[11] But also practical reasons seem to have played a role. The English East India Company, for example, brought a printer to Surat in 1675, but was not able to cast type in Indian scripts, so the venture failed.[11]

North America saw the adoption by the Cherokee Indian Elias Boudinot who published the tribe's first newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, from 1828, partly in the Cherokee language, using the Cherokee script recently invented by his compatriot Sequoyah.

In the 19th century, the arrival of the Gutenberg-style press to the shores of Tahiti (1818), Hawaii (1821) and other Pacific islands, marked the end of a global diffusion process which had begun almost 400 years earlier. At the same time, the "old style" press (as the Gutenberg model came to be termed in the 19th century), was already in the process of being displaced by industrial machines like the steam powered press (1812) and the rotary press (1833), which radically departed from Gutenberg's design, but were still of the same development line.[12]

Dates by location[edit]

The following represents a selection:[13]

Germany, Austria and German printers in Central Europe[edit]

Date City Printer [14] Comment
1452–53[15] Mainz Johannes Gutenberg, Peter Schöffer, Johann Fust (investor) Gutenberg Bible
~1457[15] Bamberg Albrecht Pfister, Johann Sensenschmid (from 1480) Pfister: first woodcut book illustration c. 1461[16][17]
1460[15] Strassburg Johannes Mentelin,[18] Johann Grüninger (1482) In 1605, Johann Carolus publishes the German Relation aller Fuernemmen und gedenckwuerdigen Historien (Collection of all distinguished and commemorable news), recognized by the World Association of Newspapers as the first newspaper.[19]
~1465[15] Cologne Ulrich Zell,[17] Busaus, Gymnici, Mylij, Quentell
1468[15] Augsburg Günther Zainer[18]
Not later than 1469[15] Nuremberg Johann Sensenschmidt, Johannes Regiomontanus (1472–75), Anton Koberger (1473–1513)[17]Johann Endter (1625-1670) Nuremberg Chronicle
~1471[15] Speyer[17]
~1472[15] Lauingen[20]
1473[15] Esslingen am Neckar
1473[15] Merseburg[20]
1473[15] Ulm[20]
~1473–74[15] Erfurt
~1474[15] Lübeck[20] 1488, Missale Aboense and other versions, first books for the Scandinavian and Finnish markets, by Bartholomeus Ghotan
1475[21] Breslau (now Wrocław) Kasper Elyan of Glogau [22] Kasper's print shop remained operational until 1483 with an overall output of 11 titles.[21]
1475[15] Trento
~1475[15] Blaubeuren[20]
~1475[15] Rostock[20]
1476[15] Reutlingen
~1478–79[15] Memmingen Albrecht Kunne [de][23]
1479[15] Würzburg[20] Georg Reyser
1479[15] Magdeburg
1480[15] Passau
1480[15] Leipzig Konrad Kachelofen [de], Andreas Friesner
~1480[15] Eichstätt
1482[15] Vienna Johann Winterburger[20]
1482[15] Munich Johann Schauer
~1482[15] Heidelberg[20]
1484[15] Ingolstadt
1485[15] Münster
~1485[15] Regensburg
1486[24] Schleswig Stephan Arndes
~1486[15] Stuttgart
~1488[15] Hamburg
1489[15] Hagenau
1491[15] Freiburg
1492[15] Marienburg Jakob Karweyse Only two editions printed[25]

Rest of Europe[edit]


Date City Printer [26] Comment
1465[27] Subiaco Arnold Pannartz, Konrad Sweynheym
1467[27] Rome Ulrich Hahn, Arnold Pannartz, Konrad Sweynheym (from 1467)
1469[27] Venice Johann von Speyer, shortly afterwards Nikolaus Jenson from Tours, Aldus Manutius Johann was granted a privilege for 5 years for movable type printing by the Senate, but died soon after.[28] In 1501, Ottaviano Petrucci produced the first book of sheet music printed from movable type.
1470[27] Milan Filippo de Lavagna, Antonio Zaroto, shortly afterwards Waldarfer von Regensburg
1470[27] Naples
1471[27] Florence Demetrius Damilas Earliest printing in Greek
1471[27] Genoa
1471[15] Ferrara
1471[27] Bologna Probably in 1477, claimed to have the first engraved illustrations,[29] although the 1476 Boccaccio edition by Colard Mansion in Bruges already had copper engravings[30]
1471[15] Padua
1471[15] Treviso
1472[15] Parma
1473[15] Pavia
1473[15] Brescia
~1473–74[15] Modena
1483 Soncino Israel Nathan ben Samuel and Soncino Family
1484[15] Siena

In the 15th century, printing presses were established in 77 Italian cities and towns. At the end of the following century, 151 locations in Italy had seen at one time printing activities, of which 130 (86%) were north of Rome.[31] During these two centuries a total of 2894 printers were active in Italy, with only 216 of them located in southern Italy. Ca. 60% of the Italian printing shops were situated in six cities (Venice, Rome, Milan, Naples, Bologna and Florence), with the concentration of printers in Venice being particularly high (ca. 30%).[32]


Date City Printer Comment
~1468[15] Basel Berthold Ruppel[23]
1470[15] Beromünster Helias Helye [de][20]
~1474[15] Burgdorf[20]
1478[15] Geneva Adam Steinschaber[23]
~1479[15] Zürich
1577 Schaffhausen
1577[33] St. Gallen
1585[33] Fribourg
1664 Einsiedeln


Date City Printer [34] Comment
1470[15] Paris Ulrich Gering, Martin Crantz, Michael Friburger
1473[15] Lyon Guillaume Le Roy,[23] Buyer
~1475[15] Toulouse
1476–77[15] Angers
~1477–78[15] Vienne
1478–79[15] Chablis
1479[15] Poitiers
1480[15] Caen
1480–82[15] Rouen
1483[15] Troyes
1484–85[15] Rennes
1486[15] Abbeville
~1486–88[15] Besançon
1490–91[15] Orléans
1491[15] Dijon
1491[15] Angoulême
1493[15] Nantes[35]
1493–94[15] Tours
1495–96[15] Limoges
1497[15] Avignon
1500[15] Perpignan

Apart from the cities above, a small number of lesser towns also set up printing presses.


Date City Printer [36] Comment
1471-1472[15] Segovia Johannes Parix
~1472-74[15] Seville
~1472-1473[15] Barcelona Heinrich Botel, Georgius vom Holtz, Johannes Planck
~1472–73[15] Valencia Lambert Palmart, Jakob Vinzlant
1475[15] Zaragoza Matthias Flander, Paul Hurus
~1480[15] Salamanca
1485[15] Burgos
1486 Toledo[33]
1496[15] Granada Meinrad Ungut, Hans Pegnitzer
1499[15] Montserrat Oldest publishing house in the world still running
1500 Madrid[33]


Date City Printer [37] Comment
1473[38] Aalst Dirk Martens
1473–74[15] Leuven Johann von Westphalen
~1473–74[15] Bruges Colard Mansion Worked with, and (?) trained William Caxton, printing the first books in English (Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye) and also French, as well as the first book to use engravings for illustrations.
1475–76[15] Brussels
1480[15] Oudenaarde Arend De Keysere
1481[15] Antwerp Matt. Van der Goes
1483[15] Ghent Arend De Keysere


Date City Printer [39] Comment
1473[15] Utrecht
1477[15] Gouda Gerard Leeu
1477[15] Deventer Richard Paffroad
1477[15] Zwolle
1477[15] Delft Jacob Jacobzoon
1483[15] Haarlem Jacob Bellaert

In 1481, printing was already being done in 21 towns and cities.


Date City Printer Comment
1472[40][41] Buda
(now Budapest)
Andreas Hess? The first work printed on Hungarian soil was the Latin history book Chronica Hungarorum published on 5 June 1472.

In the 16th century, a total of 20 print shops were active in 30 different places in Hungary, as some of them were moving several times due to political instability.[42]


Date City Printer Comment
1473[43] Kraków Kasper Straube The oldest printed work in Poland is the Latin Calendarium cracoviense (Cracovian Calendar), a single-sheet astronomical almanac for the year 1474. Although Straube continued to published in Kraków until 1477, printing became permanently established in Kraków, and Poland, only after 1503.[25] In 1491, the first book in Cyrillic script was published by Schweipolt Fiol from Franconia.[44] In 1513, Florian Ungler printed Hortulus Animae, the first book in the Polish language.
1499[15] Danzig Franz Rhode 1538: Wisby'sches Waterrecht, 1540: Narratio Prima
1580[33] Warsaw
1593 Lwów[33] Matthias Bernhart

In the 15th and 16th centuries printing presses were also established in Poznań, Lwów, Brześć Litewski and Vilnius.[21]

Czech Republic[edit]

Date City Printer Comment
~1475–76[15] Plzeň Mikuláš Bakalář (name known since 1488) Statuta Ernesti (1476, Latin), The New Testament (1476, two editions in Czech), Passionale, The Chronicle of Troy (c. 1476, Czech)
1486[15] Brno Conradus Stahel, Matthias Preinlein Agenda Olomucensis 1486 and further 20, partly small prints in Latin until 1488.[45]
1487[15] Prague The Chronicle of Troy 1487, Psalter 1487, The Bible 1488 (all in Czech); since 1512 printing in Hebrew, since 1517 in Cyrillic, too.
1489[15] Kutná Hora Martin z Tišnova The Bible (in Czech)


Date City Printer Comment
1476[46] Westminster William Caxton The first dated prints in England are an indulgence dating to 13 December 1476 (date written in by hand), and the Dicts or Sayings, completed on 18 November 1477. Between 1472 and 1476, Caxton had already published several English works on the continent (see Bruges above).[46]
1478[15] Oxford Theoderic Rood
~1479[15] St Albans 'Schoolmaster'; John Haule [47] The St Albans Press produced eight known prints including The Chronicles of England.[15]
1480[15] London John Lettou, William Machlinia, Wynkyn de Worde


Date City Printer Comment
1482[24] Odense Johann Snell Snell was the first to introduce printing both in Denmark and Sweden.[24]
1493[24] Copenhagen Gottfried von Ghemen Von Ghemen published in Copenhagen from 1493 to 1495 and from 1505 to 1510. In the meantime, he was active in the Dutch town of Leiden. For 200 years, official policy confined printing in Denmark largely to Copenhagen.[48]


Date City Printer Comment
1483[24] Stockholm Johann Snell Snell published the Dialogus creaturarum on Riddarholmen island in Stockholm on December 20, 1483.
Before 1495[15] Vadstena
1510[33] Uppsala


Date City Printer Comment
1487[49] Faro Samuel Gacon (also called Porteiro) The country's first printed book was the Hebrew Pentateuch, the Faro Pentateuch published by the Jew Samuel Gacon in southern Portugal, after having fled from the Spanish Inquisition.[49]
1488[50] Chaves[50] Unknown [50] According to the German scholar Horch the Sacramental is the first book printed in Portuguese, and not Ludolphus de Saxonia's Livro de Vita Christi of 1495 as previously assumed.[50]
1489[15] Lisbon Rabbi Zorba, Raban Eliezer Eliezer Toledano's Hebrew press was active with his foreman Judah Gedalia from 1489 until the expulsion in 1497
1492[15] Leiria
1494[15] Braga
1536 Coimbra
1571 Viseu
1583 Angra do Heroísmo, Azores
1622 Porto


Date City Printer Comment
~1491[15] Kosinj, Lika
1494[15] Senj Blaž Baromić Blaž Baromić with his co-workers established printing house in Senj based on glagolitic script. Their first work was the Breviary of Senj.
1530[51] Rijeka Šimun Kožičić Benja

Serbia and Montenegro[edit]

Date City Printer Comment
1493–94[15] Cetinje Đurađ IV Crnojević, Makarije Đurađ IV Crnojević used the printing press brought to Cetinje by his father Ivan I Crnojević to print the first books in southeastern Europe, in 1493. The Crnojević printing press operated from 1493 through 1496, turning out religious books of which five have been preserved: Oktoih prvoglasnik, Oktoih petoglasnik, Psaltir, Molitvenik and Četvorojevanđelje (the first Bible in Serbian language). Đurađ managed the printing of the books, wrote prefaces and afterwords, and developed sophisticated tables of Psalms with the lunar calendar. The books from the Crnojević press were printed in two colors, red and black, and were richly ornamented. They served as models for many of the subsequent books printed in Cyrillic.
1537 village Vrutci of Rujno Župa near Užice, hieromonk Teodosije The Rujan Four Gospels of the Rujno Monastery printing house
1552[33] Belgrade Trojan Gundulić Četvorojevanđelje, Serbulje

By 1500, the cut-off point for incunabula, 236 towns in Europe had presses, and it is estimated that twenty million books had been printed for a European population of perhaps seventy million.[16]


Date City Printer Comment
1507[52] (the earliest surviving item is dated 4 April 1508) Edinburgh Walter Chepman and Androw Myllar William Elphinstone, the Bishop of Aberdeen, was anxious to get a breviary published (see Aberdeen Breviary), and petitioned King James IV to have a printing press set up. Myllar had previously been involved with printing in France, where Scots authors had traditionally had their books printed (see Auld Alliance). The earliest works were mainly small books (approximately 15 cm), but at least one book was printed in folio format, Blind Harry's The Wallace.[53]
1552 St Andrews[54] John Scot[55]
1571 Stirling Robert Lekprevik
1622 Aberdeen Edward Raban
1638 Glasgow George Anderson
1651 Leith Evan Tyler
1685 Campbeltown unknown printer
1694 Maybole unknown printer


Date City Printer Comment
1508 Târgoviște Hieromonk Makarije Macarie is brought into Wallachia by the prince Radu cel Mare. The first printed book in Romania is made in 1508, Liturghierul. Octoihul is also printed in 1510, and Evangheliarul is printed in 1512[56]
1534 Braşov At the time, the city was a part of the Eastern Hungarian Kingdom.
1545 Târgoviște Dimitrije Ljubavić Mostly religious books are printed, among them being Molitvenik.[57] Books printed in Wallachia were also reprinted for use in Moldavia, which at the time did not have its own press.
1550[58] Klausenburg (Cluj-Napoca) At the time, the city was a part of the Eastern Hungarian Kingdom.
1561 Braşov Coresi Întrebare creştinească (Catehismul)


Date City Printer Comment
1515 Saloniki
1817 Corfu

Lithuania and Belarus[edit]

Date City Printer Comment
1522[33] Vilnius Francysk Skaryna[59] The Little Traveller’s Book[60]
1553 Brest Bernard Wojewódka[61] Catechism


Date City Printer Comment
ca. 1530[62] Holar Jon Matthiasson (Swede) Press imported on the initiative of Bishop Jon Arason. First known local print is the Latin songbook Breviarium Holense of 1534.[62]


Date City Printer Comment
mid-16th century Trondheim
1644 Oslo


Date City Printer Comment
1551 Dublin[63] Humphrey Powell The first book printed was the Book of Common Prayer.[63]


Date City Printer Comment
1553−54[44] Moscow Unknown According to recent research, the Gospel Book and six others published then.[44]
1564[64] Moscow Ivan Fyodorov (printer) Acts of the Apostles (Apostol) is the first dated book printed in Russia.[64]
1711[65] Saint Petersburg
1815 Astrakhan

Until the reign of Peter the Great printing in Russia remained confined to the print office established by Fedorov in Moscow. In the 18th century, annual printing output gradually rose from 147 titles in 1724 to 435 (1787), but remained constrained by state censorship and widespread illiteracy.[66]


Date City Printer Comment
1588 Riga Nikolaus Mollin


Date City Printer Comment
1574 Lviv Ivan Fedorov Apostol (the Acts and Epistles in Slavonic)
1593[33] Lviv


Date City Printer Comment
1587 Llandudno Roger Thackwell Y Drych Cristianogawl ("The Christian Mirror"). Printed covertly in a cave on the Little Orme.[67]


Date City Printer Comment
1632 Tartu Jacobus Pistorius (Jacob Becker) PostOrdnung (28.09.1632) was the first document printed in Tartu with date and printer's name. The printing press operated in connection with Tartu University (Academia Gustaviana) that was opened on the same year. The reverse side of the document contains a resolution of Johan Skytte about Academia Gustaviana.[68]


Date City Printer Comment
1642 Turku Peder Walde, Swedish The print shop was set up at The Royal Academy of Turku which was the first university (created in 1640) in what is now Finland.


Date City Printer Comment
1709 Tbilisi Mihail Ishtvanovitch Established by the decree of Vakhtang VI in Abanotubani, Tbilisi

The first books printed in Georgian were Alphabetum Ibericum sive Georgianum cum Oratione and Dittionario giorgiano e italiano published in Rome in 1629.[69]


Date City Printer Comment
1771 Vagharshapat St. Grigor Lusavorich, Simeon Yerevantsi (Catholicos of Armenia) The first published book in Etchmiadzin was titled Սաղմոսարան (Psalms).[70] The printing house was St. Grigor Lusavorich.

The first book which had Armenian letters was published in Mainz (Germany) in 1486. The first Armenian book to be published by the printing press was Urbatagirq—Book of Friday prayers—which was published by Hakob Meghapart in Venice in 1512.[71]


Date City Printer Comment
1860 Godthaab

Latin America[edit]


Date City Printer Comment
1539[72] Mexico City Juan Pablos of Brescia[73] at the House of the First Print Shop in the Americas Established by the archbishop Juan de Zumárraga, using Hans Cromberger from Seville, the first book printed was Breve y Mas Compendiosa Doctrina Christina,[73] written in both Spanish and native Nahuatl.[74] Esteban Martín of Mexico City has been determined to be the first printer in the Western Hemisphere.[75] Between 1539 and 1600 presses produced 300 editions, and in the following century 2,007 editions were printed.[76] In the 16th century, more than 31% of locally produced imprints were in native Indian languages, mostly religious texts and grammars or vocabularies of Amerindian languages. In the 17th century, this rate dropped to 3% of total output.[77]
1640[72] Puebla


Date City Printer Comment
1581[72] Lima Antonio Ricardo Presses produced 1,106 titles between 1584 and 1699.[78]


Date City Printer Comment
1660[72] Guatemala City The first book is Un tratado sobre el cultivo del añil, which, not coincidentally, was printed in blue ink.[79]


Date City Printer Comment
1700[72] Jesuit mission of Paraguay Established with local materials by local Guaraní workers who had converted to Christianity.[72]


Date City Printer Comment
1707[72] Havana


Date City Printer Comment
1736[72] Bogotá


Date City Printer Comment
1759[72] Quito


Date City Printer Comment
1776[72] Santiago Press functioned only briefly.[72] In 1812 permanently established.
1810 Valparaíso


Date City Printer Comment
1780[72] Buenos Aires

Puerto Rico[edit]

Date City Printer Comment


Date City Printer Comment
1807 [80] Montevideo


Date City Printer Comment
1808[81] Rio de Janeiro


Date City Printer Comment
1808[72] Caracas


Date City Country Printer Comment
1516 Fez Morocco Jewish Refugees who had worked for the printer Rabbi Eliezer Toledano in Lisbon[82]
1557 Cairo Egypt Gershom ben Eliezer Soncino First printing press in the Middle East, known only from two fragments discovered in the Cairo Geniza.[83]
As early as the 16th century Mozambique Portuguese
Luanda Angola Portuguese
Malindi Kenya Portuguese
1795 Cape Town South Africa [84] Johann Christian Ritter
Almanach voor't jaar 1796.[85][86] The possibility of printing may be as early as 1784 when Ritter arrived in the Cape but no earlier output has surfaced.[87]: facing p. 157 p. 160  Ritter is also said to have printed Almanacs for 1795 to 1797 suggesting a start to printing of 1794.[88]
1798 Cairo Egypt French
c.1825 Madagascar English Malagasy translation of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism[89]
1831 [84] Grahamstown South Africa Grahamstown Journal
1833 Mauritius
1841 [84] Pietermaritzburg South Africa Ivangeli e li yincucli, e li baliweyo G'Umatu
1841 [84] Umlazi South Africa Incuadi yokuqala yabafundayo
1856 [84] Bloemfontein South Africa Orange Vrystaad A.B.C. spel en leesboek
1855[90] Scheppmansdorf
(now: Rooibank)
Namibia Franz Heinrich Kleinschmidt On 29 June 1855, Protestant missionary Kleinschmidt published 300 copies of Luther's catechism in the Nama language which represent the first printed works in that tongue. Political unrest seems to have prevented further printing activities. The press was reported as being functional as late as 1868, but whether printing was resumed is unknown.[90]
1863 Massawa Eritrea Lorenzo Biancheri An Italian Lazarist missionary set up the first printing press in Ethiopia to print missionary texts in Amharic. Biancheri called himself "Printer to His Majesty Emperor Theodros", but there is no evidence he had an imperial appointment. He died in 1864 and his press did not outlive him.[91]
1870s [92] Malawi
1892 Salisbury Southern Rhodesia
(now: Zimbabwe)
Rhodesia Herald in print, may have started earlier [87]: 169 
1901 Harar Ethiopia Fifth press in the Ethiopian Empire, but the first in what is today Ethiopia. Established by Franciscans, it printed periodicals in French and Amharic. It was later moved to Dire Dawa.[91]


South Asia[edit]

Date City Country Printer Comment
1556 Goa Portuguese India Jesuits The press was attached to St Paul's college. See Printing in Goa.
1674-75 Bombay British India Bhimjee Parikh[93] / Henry Hills East India Company supplied press, with only a Latin typeface
1712 Tranquebar Danish India Danish-Halle/SPCK Mission
1736 Colombo Ceylon, Dutch India Dutch reform Church / Dutch East India Company Printing in Dutch, Sinhala, and Tamil
1758 Pondicherry French India Thomas Arthur, comte de Lally Captured by the East India Company, and moved to Madras in 1761
1761 Madras British India Johann Phillip Fabricius Printing in Tamil, using the captured Pondicherry press
1772 Madras British India Shahamir Shahamirian, Armenian The first book published here was Այբբենարան (Aybbenaran - Reading Primer) in Armenian.
1777, November Calcutta British India James Augustus Hicky Publisher of Hicky's Bengal Gazette
1778, January Calcutta British India Robert William Kiernander and John Zachariah Kiernander SPCK Missionaries
Between 1777 and 1779 Hooghly British India Charles Wilkins and Nathaniel Brassey Halhed
1780, November Calcutta British India Barnard Messink and Peter Reed Publishers of the India Gazette
1792 Bombay British India
1800 Serampore Danish India Baptist Missionary Society Printing Bibles and books in several Indian languages
1848 Lahore British India Syed Muhammad Azeem Lahore Chronicle Press, located in the old Naulakha palace, and printing in English and Farsi (Persian)

Ottoman Empire[edit]

Date City Printer Comment
Dec 13th, 1493 Constantinople David and Samuel ibn Nahmias, Hebrew First ever printed book in Ottoman Empire was Arba'ah Turim in Hebrew.[94] Some argue the year and suggest 1503 or 1504.[94]
1519—1523 the Church of Saint George in Sopotnica, Sanjak of Herzegovina, Ottoman Empire (today village in Novo Goražde, Republic of Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina). The books were printed in Church Slavonic of the Serbian recension. Božidar Goraždanin hieratikon (1519), psalter (1521) and a small euchologion (1523)
1554 Bursa
1567 Constantinople Apkar Tebir, Armenian The first book printed here was Փոքր քերականութիւն (Poqr Qerakanutyun - Brief Armenian Grammar) in Armenian
1577 Safed Eliezer and Abraham ben Isaac Ashkenazi (apparently no relation) First printing press in Western Asia, publishing in Hebrew. Eliezer, a native of Prague, operated in Lublin and Constantinople before settling in Safed. First printed Lekach Tov, a commentary on the Book of Esther by 18 year old Yom Tov Tzahalon.[95]
1584 St. Anthony's Monastery, Qozhaya, Lebanon Introduced by Maronite Patriarch Sergius ar-Rezzi; psalter was printed the first time in 1585[96]
1610 St. Anthony's Monastery, Qozhaya, Lebanon Second printing press set up by Christian Maronites in Lebanon; printed both Syriac and Arabic in Syriac script
1627-28 Istanbul Nicodemus Metaxas First printing press of Greek books in Ott.Empire. Closed down by the authorities in 1628[97]
1706 Aleppo Athanasius Dabbas First press for printing in the Arabic script in the Ottoman Empire; operated until 1711. Funded by Constantin Brâncoveanu and established with the assistance of Anthim the Iberian.[8]
1729[98] Constantinople Ibrahim Muteferrika First press for printing in the Arabic script established by Muslims in the Ottoman Empire, against opposition from the calligraphers and parts of the Ulama. It operated until 1742, producing altogether seventeen works, all of which were concerned with non-religious, utilitarian matters.[99]
1734 Monastery of St. John of Choueir, Khenchara, Lebanon ʻAbd Allāh Zākhir
1759 Smyrna (Izmir) Markos, Armenian
1779[100] Constantinople James Mario Matra (Briton) Abortive attempt to revive printing in the Ottoman lands[100]

According to some sources, Sultan Bayezid II and successors prohibited printing in Arabic script in the Ottoman empire from 1483 on penalty of death, but printing in other scripts was done by Jews as well as the Greek, Armenian, and other Christian communities (1515 Saloniki, 1554 Bursa (Adrianople), 1552 Belgrade, 1658 Smyrna). Arabic-script printing by non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire began with the press of Athanasius Dabbas in Aleppo in 1706.[8] In 1727, Sultan Achmed III gave his permission for the establishment of the first legal print house for printing secular works by Muslims in Arabic script (Islamic religious publications still remained forbidden),[99] but printing activities did not really take off until the 19th century.

Southeast Asia[edit]

Date City Country Printer Comment
1590 Manila Philippines
1668 Batavia Indonesia
1818 Sumatra Island Indonesia

East Asia[edit]

Date City Country Printer Comment
1590 Nagasaki Japan Alessandro Valignano The Jesuits in Nagasaki established The Jesuit Mission Press in Japan and printed a number of books in romanised Japanese language.
1833[101] Macao China The first presses were imported by Western priests for their missionary work from Europe and America. The earliest known, an albion press, was set up in the Portuguese colony Macao and later moved to Canton and Ningbo.[101]
1883[102] Seoul Korea Inoue Kakugoro (Japanese) The first printing press was imported from Japan for publishing Korea's first Korean-language newspaper Hansong Sunbo. After the press was destroyed by conservatives, Inoue returned with a new one from Japan, reviving the paper as a weekly under the name Hansong Chubo. Presses were also established in Seoul in 1885, 1888 and 1891 by Western missionaries.[102] However, the earliest printing press was apparently introduced by the Japanese in the treaty port of Pusan in 1881 to publish Korea's first newspaper, the bilingual Chosen shinpo.[103]


Date City Country Printer Comment
1636 New Julfa, Isfahan Persia Khachatur Kesaratsi, Armenian The first book printed here was Սաղմոս ի Դավիթ (Saghmos i Davit - Psalter) in Armenian
1820 Tehran Persia
1817[104] Tabriz Persia Zain al-Abidin Tabrizi (?)

United States and Canada[edit]

Date City Country Printer Comment
1638 Cambridge, Massachusetts USA Stephen Daye, Samuel Green (from 1649) This printing shop was located in the home of the first president of Harvard College, Henry Dunster. It printed the first Bible in British North America in 1663, in English as well as Algonquian.[105]
1682[106] Jamestown, Virginia USA
1685[106] Philadelphia USA William Bradford
1685 St. Mary's City, Maryland[106] USA William and Dinah Nuthead started a press in Annapolis in 1686[107]
1693[106] New York USA William Bradford
1731[106] Charleston, South Carolina USA
1735 Germantown USA Christoph Sauer
1749[106] New Bern, North Carolina USA
1752 Halifax Canada John Bushell The Halifax Gazette, Canada's first newspaper was published initially in this year.
1761[106] Wilmington, Delaware USA
1762[106] Savannah, Georgia USA
1764[106] New Orleans, Louisiana Spanish Louisiana (later USA)
1783[106] St. Augustine, Florida La Florida (New Spain) (later USA)
1787[106] Lexington, Kentucky USA
1791[106] Rogersville, Tennessee USA
1828 New Echota, Arkansas USA Elias Boudinot (Cherokee) Boudinot published the Cherokee Phoenix as first newspaper of the tribe.
1833[106] Monterey, California Mexico (later USA)
1834[106] Santa Fe Mexico (later USA)
1846 San Francisco USA
1853 Oregon USA
1858 Vancouver Island Canada

Australia and Oceania[edit]

Date City Country Printer Comment
1795 ? Australia George Hughes
1802 Sydney Australia George Howe
1818 Hobart, Tasmania Australia
1818 Tahiti French Polynesia
1821 Hawaii Kingdom of Hawaii
1835 Paihia New Zealand William Colenso The first book was a Maori translation of part of the Bible commissioned by the Church Missionary Society: "Ko nga Pukapuka o Paora te Apotoro ki te Hunga o Epeha o Piripai" (The Epistles of St Paul to the Philippians and the Ephesians).
1836 Maui Kingdom of Hawaii

See also[edit]


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    At the same time, then, as the printing press in the physical, technological sense was invented, 'the press' in the extended sense of the word also entered the historical stage. The phenomenon of publishing was born.

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Further reading[edit]

On the effects of Gutenberg's printing

External links[edit]