Now, Gutenberg "worked" his invention so energetically that, with the assistance of Faust, Schaeffer and others, an exceedingly efficient system of printing books was in practical operation as early as 1455. The types were of metal, and were cast from a matrix that had been stamped out by a steel punch, and could therefore be so accurately fashioned that the type had a beautiful sharpness and finish. In addition, certain mechanical apparatus of a simple kind (printing presses) were invented, whereby the type could be satisfactorily handled, and impressions could be taken from them with accuracy and quickness.
News of the invention spread so rapidly that before the year 1500 printing presses were at work in every country of Europe. The first books printed were, of course, the works of the ancient authors, beginning with three editions of Donatus. These were multiplied in great numbers, and gave the first effective impulse to the spread of civilization from the Græco-Oriental countries, where it had been sleeping, to the hungry intellects of Europe.