Gutenberg Bible goes on-line

A website enabling visitors anywhere in the world to explore in detail the British Library's rare copies of the Gutenberg Bible - the oldest surviving printed book produced in the Western World - has been launched at:

On the site you will find digital images of the entire text of the Library's two copies of Johann Gutenberg's Bible, the first book to be printed using the technique of printing which Gutenberg invented in the 1450s. There are just 48 surviving copies of the Gutenberg Bible left - many of these are incomplete.

The Library's Gutenberg website is the result of a unique collaboration with Japan's Keio University and NTT Inc. A team of ten researchers and technical experts from Japan digitised the Library's copies of the Gutenberg Bible using new technology designed specifically for use with rare books.

The site has been designed by Oyster Partners. New background material allows the viewer to find out about Gutenberg, the world in which he lived, how he produced the Bible and the various texts he printed. There is also a section about the digitisation of the Gutenberg Bibles. Other web resources on Gutenberg appear in the Links and further reading in References. A Timeline sets out Gutenberg's life, main achievements and milestones in the subsequent history of the Library's two copies of the Bible.

Adrian Arthur, who oversaw the project, said: "With the Gutenberg site the Library is bringing these great treasures alive in a new way for both the browser and the professional researcher."

Anil Pillai from Oyster said: "Gutenberg used the technology of his day to try and bring the beauty of his work to as many people as possible, but relatively few were able to appreciate it. Now, through today's technology, more people across the world can admire and appreciate this beauty in a single day than in the last 550 years. I think we can safely say Gutenberg would be proud of what has been achieved."

First posted: LONDON - 2 April 2004 - 330 words

Share this story