The Invention of the Printing Press and the Rise of Bitcoin
The Invention of the Printing Press and the Rise of Bitcoin by Simon Black – Daily Reckoning
In 1483, just as Johannes Gutenberg’s new moveable type printing press was spreading across Europe, Sultan Bayezid II of the Ottoman Empire issued a staunch decree banning the machine from his realm.
At the time the Ottoman Empire was the dominant superpower in the world, having conquered most of the Middle East, North Africa, and southeastern Europe.
But Bayezid was afraid of the new technology.
He and his advisors felt that the printing press would too easily allow information and new ideas to spread across his empire.
And they believed this would threaten their control and offend the religious establishment.
So not only did Bayezid ban the printing press, he imposed the death penalty upon anyone caught using one.
The Ottoman Empire remained so closed off to new ideas, in fact, that the only western book to be imported and translated for the next 3 centuries was a medical text on the treatment of syphilis.
Needless to say the Ottoman Empire did not remain the world’s dominant superpower for long.
It was during this period that Europe underwent radical growth.
Just a few centuries before, most of Europe was nothing more than a plague-infested backwater of irrelevant kingdoms. But by the mid-1600s, Europe had surged ahead, in part due to the rapid spread of knowledge made possible by the printing press.
It was the Internet of its time.
And scientists like Isaac Newton would never have been able to ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ had it not been for that disruptive, revolutionary technology. Western civilization as a whole owes much of its prosperity to the printing press, which enabled the sharing of information and ideas.
And the example shows how embracing new technology can make an enormous difference in the development of a society.