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A brief history of… printing

printing press engraving

We thought we’d talk about the history of printing. It’s quite amazing to see how far we’ve come – the image above is of a printing press that was invented in 1846! As you might’ve guessed though there is A LOT to talk about, so we decided to break it down into this handy timeline. Click through the blue links to read more about each process on wikipedia.

618 to 906: T’ang Dynasty – the first printing is done in China using ink on carved wooden blocks begins to make multiple transfers of an image to paper.

868: The Diamond Sutra is printed.

1241: Koreans print books using movable type.

1300: The first use of wooden type in China.

1309: Europeans first make paper. However, the Chinese and Egyptians had started making paper centuries previous.

1338: First papermill opened in France.

1390: First papermill opened in Germany.

1392: Foundries that can produce bronze type are opened in Korea.

1423: In Europe block printing is used to print books.

1452: In Europe, metal plates are first used in printing. Gutenberg begins printing the Bible which he finishes in 1456.

1457: First color printing by Fust and Schoeffer.

1465: Drypoint engravings invented by Germans.

1476: William Caxton begins using a Gutenberg printing press in England.

1477: Intaglio is first used for book illustration for a Flemish book called Il Monte Sancto di Dio.

1495: First papermill opened in England.

1501: Italic type first used.

1550: Wallpaper introduced in Europe.

1605: First weekly newspaper published in Antwerp.

1611: King James Bible published.

1660: Mezzotint invented in Germany.

1691: First papermill opened in the American colonies.

1702: Multi-colored engraving invented by German Jakob Le Blon. The first English language daily newspaper is published called the Daily Courant.

1725: In Scotland stereotyping invented by William Ged.

1800: Iron printing presses invented.

1819: Rotary printing press invented by Napier.

1829: Embossed printing invented by Louis Braille.

1841: Type-composing machine invented.

1844: Electrotyping invented.

1846: Cylinder press invented by Richard Hoe. Cylinder press can print 8,000 sheets an hour.

1863: Rotary web-fed letterpress invented by William Bullock.

1865: Web offset press can print on both sides of paper at once.

1886: Linotype composing machine invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler.

1870: Paper is now mass-manufactured from wood pulp.

1878: Photogravure printing invented by Karl Klic.

1890: Mimeograph machine introduced.

1891: Printing presses can now print and fold 90,000 4-page papers an hour. Diazotype invented (print photographs on fabric).

1892: 4-color rotary press invented.

1904: Offset lithography becomes common. The first comic book is published.

1907: Commercial silk screening invented.

1947: Phototypesetting made practical

Today: Currently most books and newspapers are printed using the technique of offset lithography. Believe it or not digital printing only accounts for 9% of all the pages printed in the world!

Keep checking back for our next Adtec explains article where we talk about the difference between digital printing and lithography.

Interested in having some print work of your own done? Click here to see what we can do for you!


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