Would you believe it if I told you that once upon a time, only rich people could read?
I know it sounds absurd. Today, everybody can read. Anyone can pick up a book and read the words inside it. However, many years ago in the Middle Ages, people could not read. They could not even own a book, unless they were rich.
In the Middle Ages, books were made by hand. Not only that, they were also written by hand. It was slow and difficult. To make a copy of a book, people had to sit and write out each page. Worst of all, sometimes, the person copying the page would make a mistake. That mistake would then be copied by the next person and so on.
Since it was so difficult and took so long, books were very expensive. So, only the rich could afford to buy books. Moreover, only the rich could afford to teach their children how to read. There were no schools at that time. A private teacher would be hired by rich families to teach their children how to read and write.
In the 15th century, one man changed the way things were. He thought of a way to make books quickly. His name was Johannes Gutenberg. His invention changed the world.
Gutenberg thought of a machine that could easily copy pages of a book. He wanted to make a new machine that could print books.
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absurd (adj) – something that does not make sense, strange, silly thought