History of Printing Cassandra Kuechler

The World of Printing

The global printing industry is predicted to reach $980 billion by 2018. The printing industry has grown over thousands of years, developing in numerous ways through history. We changed how we print, why we can print, and how printing affects the world. It all started with paper and now we can print on numerous surfaces and even print in not only 2D, but 3D.

The printing industry is essential. Without the developments in paper and printer, we'd lack books, paper money, and many types of graphics.


3000 BCE

Papyrus was the first type of 'paper.' It was made using the papyrus plant. Its paper like material was used as a writing surface in Egypt. It was also used in Ancient Greece and Rome. This was the early beginnings of what would become the printing industry.


ca. 100 A.D.

Around 100 A.D. paper was invented by the Chinese. The paper we know today was invented by Ts'ai Lun, a Chinese court official. Ts'ai made paper by mixing mulberry bark, hemp and rags with water, mashed it into pulp, pressed out the liquid, and hung it to dry in the sun.

Paper Making

105 CE

Paper making is traced back to China when paper was invented. Paper making techniques were able to spread around the world, migrating from China into Europe. During the 8th century, Muslims learned the Chinese secret of paper making and later invaded Europe, exposing Europeans to paper making.

Woodblock Printing

Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images, or patterns onto textiles then later paper. This method was used widely through East Asia, originating in China. The Chinese invented woodblock printing and examples of woodblock printing exist on cloth originating from before 220 A.D.

Paper money was first used by the Chinese who started carrying folding money during the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907). Most paper money was privately issued. These bills were used for more than 500 years before Europeans found the use of them in the 17th century.

Paper Mills

The First Mills

Muslim and Chinese paper makers used animal and human power to make their paper in their mills. Many paper mills were built in Baghdad and from there, the industry spread ti various parts of the world. The first paper mill in Africa was built in Egypt in 850. The first paper mill in Europe was in Spain. By the early 20th century, paper mills sprung up in New England and the rest of the world due to the high demand of paper.

Paper Mills and Chinese Woodblock Printed Paper

Movable Type

The world's first movable type printing press was invented for printing paper books. It was made of ceramic porcelain china materials. It was invented in China around 1040 A.D.

Movable Type

The first movable type printing press was invented by the Han Chinese innovator Bi Sheng during the Northern Song Dynasty. Movable type is the system and technology of printing and typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document to a medium, usually paper.

For approximately 4,500 years before books could be printed, books were produced by hand. They were written on surfaces of clay, papyrus, wax, and parchment.

The Gutenberg Printing Press


The first printing press was the Gutenberg Printing Press, created by German Johannes Gutenberg in the Holy Roman Empire. The printing press was important because it made the ability for mass production of printed materials possible. The invention led wider broadcasting of knowledge and literacy throughout the socioeconomic classes.

The Gutenberg Printing Press
The first book mass produced in Europe was the Gutenberg Bible. It was printed using mass produced movable metal type in Europe by Joannes Gutenberg. It marked the start of the "Gutenberg Revolution" and the age of printed books in the West.

The First Newspaper

Acta Diurna' was the first newspaper published in Rome, around 59 BC. In 1605, the first printed weekly newspaper to be published in Antwerp was called Relati.

First English Paper

The first English daily newspaper was the Daily Courant, which began on 11 March 1702.

First Colonial Newspaper

America's first continuously-published newspaper was the Boston News-Letter. It published its first issue on April 24, 1704.

Printing had its impacts in Colonial and Revolutionary America. It allowed America to have access to newspapers, therefore information. In 1775, Common Sense by Thomas Paine was printed and disturbed as an easy read to help get people to join the Revolution and understand its cause. In 1776 The Declaration of Independence was printed on July 4 by John Dunlap. Printing helped America in its early stages.


Lithography is the process of printing from a flat surface treated is would repel the ink except where it is required for printing. It was invented in 1796 by German author and actor Alois Senefelder as a cheap method of publishing theatrical works.

The printing is from a stone (lithographic limestone) or a metal plate with a smooth surface.
Offset printing is a commonly used printing technique where the inked image is transferred (or "offset") from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. The development of the offset press came in two versions. The first was in 1875 by Robert Barclay of England for printing on tin, and then in 1904 by Ira Washington Rubel of the United States for printing on paper.

Digital Printing

Digital printing refers to any printing technology (such as laserjet printer) that is capable of producing printed materials directly from a computer file. Benny Landa changed the course of the printing industry at IPEX in 1993, when he unveiled the E-Print 1000, the world's first digital color printing press. He came to be known as the father of digital printing.

Achievers in Printing

There were numerous people and companies that achieved much for the world of printing. Some achievers include:

-Johannes Gutenberg who created the Gutenberg Printing Press, leading to mass production of items such as books

-Lithography invented by Alois Senefelder. Lithography made book illustration easier and less expensive. More and more, authors were able to add illustrations to their books

-Thomas Edison invents the mimeograph, a low-cost duplicating machine that works by forcing ink through a stencil onto paper.

-Xerox introduces first autonomic xerographic. Also with Xerox, Gary Keith Starkweather invented laser printer based on a modified xerographic copier. Xerox was large in the printing industry, also inventing a moderinized photocopy, replacing the pre-photocopy machine inventions and making business related printing production quicker.

-Canon introduced the PC printer as the world’s first plain paper primer for COM. Later, Canon introduced the BJ-80 the world's first inkjet printer using bubble jet technology.

-The first major inkjet printers by Z Corp, Dell centers the printer market 2002, 2003 hp introduces wireless printing and 2003 epson launches the wireless printer for retail. As printers become more available to the public, printing thrives and becomes more accessible to the public.

Today, more than half of American households own a printer. Most people have access to a printer. Businesses rely on printing for production of materials. People thrive on the printing industries and what they supply.
Computers simplified the process because more of the work could be completed in house. Computer applications included fonts, font sizes and leading options, eliminating the need for a typesetter. The process of producing a work became easier and flexibility of computer applications allows you to easily make changes.
All project on the computer were digital, making work easier and made communication between a client's wants for a project easier to understand from a business perspective. All of these changes made printing, designing, or working more economical. Computers allow one person to do all of the tasks that used to require an entire team of designers. This also provided for the graphic design industry, making creating designs and distributing them easier. Computers make work and distrubitation of work easier. Though computer now created the option for non-paper means of sending traditionally paper things, such as mail, the printing industry is still important and used. Computers can provide a simpler and sometimes more ecologically friendly way of sending out work.
The Internet, printing-on-demand and the e-book are the main drivers of change, impacting all aspects of the publishing value chain. We can books electronically, keep receipts electronically, and have other written works in a electronic form in comparison to a printer verison. Computers offered a big change and big alternatives to the printing industry, both being helpful and in someway hurtful to the industry as a whole. Overall, computers are impactful and helpful to the general population.
Today, we are able to print in 3D. As of 2017 we are able to print bionic hands for amputees, houses for less than $11,000, and even simple household items like cups. The 3D printing industry is growing but hasn't become a common household item like regular printers are.

Printing Evolves with the World

The world around us is evolving around us constantly. The printing industry is extreme important to the society as it gives us our paper money, prints our books, supplies us with letterheads, envelopes, posters, and even billboards and gateways the graphic design industry. We started with papyrus, the first step to the entire printing industry. We needed a surface to write on and produce writings with before we could create machines to mass produce works. Now, we are able to print in 3D common household items and even bionic hands. The printing industry is expanding and evolving, just like the world is.


Created with images by CurtisMmedia - "paper low key" • pedrosimoes7 - "Holy book" • PublicDomainPictures - "art attachment background" • chris6 - "printing printer printing service" • martaposemuckel - "bank note euro bills" • Magnascan - "toner color ink" • danielfagadau - "texture paper map" • NATT-at-NKM - "Robert Pocock's Handwriting" • brianfakhoury - "paul revere boston statue" • StartupStockPhotos - "startup start-up notebooks" • blickpixel - "board electronics computer" • markusspiske - "office home office creative" • wilhei - "font lead set book printing" • FredCintra - "Control is an Option to Command"

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.