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Scanner Trivia Highlight – The History of the Printing Revolution and the Digital World
At times, it may be easy to overlook just how much progress humankind has made in the process of developing new technological ideas. Given the overabundance of technology in the average person’s life, it seems fair to reason that the intricacies of the inner workings of most of these devices are regularly overlooked. In this respect, we believe that the masterfully crafted design of the modern large format scanner deserves recognition for all of the benefit which it is able to provide, and all of the burden and frustration which it has removed from the lives of people around the world.
Prior to the invention of Johann Gutenberg’s printing press, literary documents were exclusively copied by the hands of a single scribe, by candlelight, onto long scrolls of parchment – duplication of a single literary piece could take months, or even years, depending on the length of the document. With Gutenberg’s introduction of the printing press, the world of literature was revolutionized – literary documents which had previously taken months to duplicate could now be recreated with enough volume to supply any and all interested or curious parties. Entire towns, previously possessing limited literary access (if any at all), suddenly found a means to educate and proliferate knowledge through a new, easy-to-access medium. This availability of literature, in turn, sparked the Printing Revolution, leading to widespread literacy throughout Europe, and the rest of the world shortly thereafter.
In much the same way that the printing press facilitated the rise of the printing revolution, we must recognize that the scanner has helped to facilitate the rise of the digital revolution. Where previously a document was irreversibly altered once burned, damaged or crumpled, the digitization of documents and materials has provided humankind with a method to – once again – transcend the perceived boundaries of historical preservation. There is something whole, and seemingly indomitable, about a digital copy. It goes without saying that digital documents are not impervious to harm – files often become corrupted, and are susceptible to accidental deletion. On the whole, however, the defining qualities of a digital copy seem far more reliable than any physical copy; they are not easily misplaced (try accidentally returning a PDF file to the library), they are easily and near-infinitely duplicable, and – most astoundingly - they are accessible from both near and remote locations (often simultaneously). For this reason, it bears mentioning that we may often take for granted just how much scanners and their revolutionary ability to digitize works of art and literature offer to the general public. The next time you find yourself operating your large format scanner, be sure to give some thought to all of the time and effort which countless individuals from generations past have undertaken in order to allow us to enjoy the technology which we have today.