Prologue: Old Knowledge and New Technology <

Old Knowledge <

Leonardo da Vinci.
Design for a printing press
ca. 1480
Some Codices are provided by the Bibliotheca Leordina. They can be embedded as external content from Leonardo digitale/eLeo. For data protection and privacy see here. Embed the content?

Leonardo was fully aware of the potential of printing for disseminating knowledge—including his own contributions and designs—although he ended up publishing hardly anything during his lifetime. This design for mechanically optimizing the printing press dates back to his time in Florence, where the first movable type print shop was set up in 1476 in the monastery of Santa Maria Novella. Leonardo’s model was probably designed to employ a semi-automatic paper feed. That he remained interested in the practical production of books later on is shown by a sheet of the Codex Atlanticus from 1513–1516 with his calculations for the number of movable type characters needed to print a 160-page book: 52 characters x 50 lines x 160 pages = 416,000 characters.



    Bambach, Carmen C. 2019a. Leonardo da Vinci Rediscovered. Vol. 1: The Making of an Artist 1452–1500. 4 vols. New Haven / London: Yale University Press, 13, 284, 296, 299.

    Eadem. 2019b. Leonardo da Vinci Rediscovered. Vol. 2: The Maturing of a Genius 1485–1506. 4 vols. New Haven / London: Yale University Press, 49–51.

    Pedretti, Carlo. 1979. The Codex Atlanticus of Leonardo da Vinci. A Catalogue of Its Newly Restored Sheets. 2 vols. New York: Johnson, Vol. 2, VII–XII, 77, 227.

    Taddei, Mario, Edoardo Zanon, and Domenico Laurenza. 2005. Le macchine di Leonardo. Segreti e invenzioni nei Codici da Vinci. Florence: Giunti, 226–229.