Combinatorial innovation

The invention of printing by Gutenberg in the 16th century is a classic case of combinatorial innovation. All the key components of printing had already been developed long before him, particularly the press, which was originally a grape press. Therefore, Gutenberg’s genius lay not in his inventing the principle and the elements needed for printing from scratch, but rather in borrowing a mature technology from a completely different sector and using it to solve an unrelated problem.

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