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1208  Oldest known datable Christian hymn manuscript: ‘Heyr Himna Smixur’ (Hark, the heavens awake), written by the Icelandic poet and skald Kolbein Tumason.  
1407  An amusement tax, le droit des pauvres, is introduced in France. It persists into the twentieth century, when the rate is 10 per cent of box office revenue.  
1454  First known dated printing from moveable type: papal indulgences printed at Mainz.  
1455  Publication at Mainz of the Mazarin Bible, the first book printed from moveable type by Johann Gutenberg (c1397-1468).  
1471  William Caxton (c1422-1491) learns printing techniques in Cologne, Germany and then sets up his own press in Belgium to produce the first English-language printed book, Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye.  
1476  William Caxton returns to England and founds his press in London at the Sign of the Red Pale, Westminster.  
1477 November 18  William Caxton issues his first dated printed book, the first printed in England (and the first of around 100 produced by Caxton), Dictes or Sayengis of the Philosophres.  
1490  First English paper mill is built: Sele Mille near Stevenage.  
1500  Leonardo da Vinci designs a camera obscura in greatly improved form. However, because the description is written in Leonardo's mirror writing, it is not deciphered until 1797.  
1500  By now there are around 1,000 printers' workshops in Europe. Output to date has been 20m copies of 35,000 titles.  
1516  Sir Brian Tuke is appointed Master of the Posts by King Henry VIII with responsibility for maintaining a regular mail service along all main roads from London.  
1526  The first printed English New Testament, translated by William Tyndale, is printed at Worms, Germany. [0034]  
1535 October 4  First printed English translation of the Bible, by Miles Coverdale (1488-1569), is published, printed in Antwerp [right]. [0034]  
1545  First known illustration of a camera obscura is published by Reinerus Gemma-Frisius (1508-1555) in his book De Radio Astronomica et Geometrica. He used the device to observe a solar eclipse at Louvain the previous year.  
1556  Georg Fabricius (1516-1571), an alchemist, discovers the photochemical effect of light on luna cornea (horn silver) when mixed with a solution of salt and silver nitrate.  
1568  In La Practtica della Perspecttiva, Daniel Barbaro, a noble Venetian architect, describes the benefits of incorporating a biconvex lens into a camera obscura.  
1575  William Byrd and Thomas Tallis are granted an English monopoly on music publishing.  
1576  First English theatre is built by James Burbage (d 1597): The Theatre in Shoreditch, London.  
1583  First amusement park opens at Bakken, Denmark. It is still open 420 years later.  
1591  A patent for the exclusive right to print books is granted in England.  
1599  To resolve a dispute about the expired lease on the site, the wood from The Theatre at Shoreditch is removed by Richard and Cuthbert Burbage, sons of the now deceased James, to Southwark, where it is used to build The Globe [right].  
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Page updated 28 December 2008
David Fisher