The Printing Press
In the early 1450s
Johannes Gutenberg from Mainz in Germany put together several already existing
technologies to take advantage of a business opportunity. Gutenberg wanted to
make money out of printing 'indulgences', 'get out of jail free cards' the Church
issues to sinners who donated money for crusades or new buildings.
So the printing press was born, the bastard child of a winepress, Chinese paper
technology and the economic imperative. Since then Gutenberg's press has had
a massive impact, not just on media economics, but on the way human societies
think about knowledge. However, it's worth noting that the explosion of publishing
had to wait for over a hundred and fifty years before Caxton made large scale
print runs viable and paper tax was abolished in the nineteenth century.