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Steve Jobs' iPad Pays Homage To Gutenberg's Printing Press

The printing press made the mass production of printed material possible and revolutionized human communication.  Johann Gutenberg dedicated most of his entire adult life to developing moveable type and the modern printing press (introduced in 1450 A.D.) and died penniless. Steve Jobs, on the other hand will not incur the same fate having created more than $150 billion in shareholder wealth, transforming movies, telecom, music, and now literature. In so doing, he pays homage to the invention that changed our lives forever.



After Gutenberg invented the first printing press, it took fifty years before there were 20 million books in the world. On iPads' first day of sale, it sold over 250,000 e-books from their iBookstore. At that rate they could exceed 20 million books in less than 3 months.

Now, some 560 years later, you can also carry an entire library of classics around in a device that weighs less than on hardcover novel. iPad, in addition to Kindle and some of the other e-book readers offers its users access to Project Gutenberg, a source to download 30,000 free books. Since most of them classics's copyrights have lapsed, e-book devices are able to release them at no charge.

Project Gutenberg's free digital library  is now available on iPads at  Apple's iBookstore. Apple's move to bring the free titles on day one for the iPad is believed to head off any attempts by third parties to profit on literature in the public domain.

The site includes big-name titles from world-renown authors, representing the greats such as Dante Alighieri and H.G. Wells. The site's free digital ebooks have saved students untold hundreds of dollars while they are pursuing college degrees.

Easy to access, the first time you open the App Store app on your iPad, you’ll automatically be prompted and asked if you want to install the iBooks application on your iPad. From there you can browse the Library and also sample and buy other digital/e-books.

We've come a long way baby, from the days of moveable type, but it's appropriate we  pay homage to the origin of the printed word that set us on this path. Life Magazine's list of Top 100 Events of the Millennium lists Johann Gutenberg's printing of the Bible number one technological advancement in the last millennium. While the iPad, nor any of its competitors comes close to that achievement, being able to carry around an entire library's worth of books in one device certainly gives us access that our fore-bearers could have only dreamt of.

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Ron Callari
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