I remember a few years ago, when I was in Toastmasters International, one of the first times I was ever asked a question during the "Table Topics" portion of our meeting, the question was "What do you think is the greatest invention of all time".
If you are not familiar with Toastmasters or Table Topics, I will tell you that the idea is to catch a person off-guard and see how quickly they can think on their feet and speak eloquently and intelligently about a topic they may know very little about.
I was nervous when he called my name, but as soon as he finished the question I breathed a sigh of relief. I couldn't imagine an easier question to answer.
Clearly, the printing press has been the greatest invention of all time. Without it, we would still be in the dark ages. Only through the knowledge that was able to be preserved and widely distributed through the use of the printing press, was mankind able to progress past the limits that oral tradition imposes.
Even today, the spread of information that happens at the speed of light (including this blog), happens only because of the logical and gradual progression that began with the widespread information distribution made possible by the printing press.
To this day, the thoughts and ideas of the greatest minds in the world are preserved forever on paper and ink for generations to come to learn from and enjoy.
The original printing press was a very small snow ball that with each generation has grown larger and faster. Today we reap the benefits of a very simple invention created a little over 500 years ago.
I thank you Johannes Gutenberg.