History of Printing – Timeline

PREHISTORIC EUROPE

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CAVE PAINTING

Cave painters communicating through images painted on walls using inks formed from sap and animal blood, and blowing on the wall using ‘brushes’ made from animal bones.

Click this link for to visit Dorling Kindersley’s lovely guide to cave painting, which is perfect for children.


MIDDLE EAST



CLAY TABLET PRINTING

From around 3000 BC, scribes in the Middle East made an impress to be rolled onto clay tablets to copy and duplicate images.



ANCIENT EGYPT

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INVENTED BLACK INK

Made by mixing black soot with vegetable oil and beeswax. Different colours were produced by mixing materials like ochre instead of soot. Scribes used reeds to brush onto papyrus and to decorate tombs.

For more information click here to read this post by Brooklyn Museum.



ANCIENT GREECE

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PARCHMENT DEVELOPED

Using a hard reed as a pen, fashioned like a fountain pen with a nib, the Greeks scribed on parchment.



ANCIENT ROME



MASS PRINT PRODUCTION

To meet demand, battalions of slaves would copy out classical works.

500-1500 AD



ENGRAVING AND ETCHING

For over a century, this was the means employed to transfer images to paper.

868

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FIRST FULL LENGTH BOOK PRINTED

The Diamond Sutra is published, complete with illustrations and text, using woodblock printing technique developed during the T’ang Dynasty.

1241

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KOREA DEVELOPS CAST METAL MOVEABLE TYPE

The most famous example is Yi Munsun Chip, a collection of works by revered poet and scholar Yi Munsun during the Koryo Dynasty.

1300

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CHINA MASS PRINTS USING WOODEN MOVEABLE TYPE

A Chinese county office prints 43 books after making 100,000 wooden moveable types.

1423



BLOCK PRINTING COMES TO EUROPE

Chinese advancements reach Europe.

1456

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THE AGE OF THE PRINTED BOOK IN THE WEST

The Gutenberg Bible is the first major book printed using mass produced metal type. Thanks to this visionary technique, books could now be printed in their millions.

Find our more about it here.

1457

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COLOUR PRINTING INVENTED

Psalter, a collection of Psalms, is printed in more than one colour.

1476

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FIRST PRINTING PRESS AVAILABLE IN UK

William Caxton introduced the first, publishing Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

1517 – 1648

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THE REFORMATION

Thanks to the printing press, Luther and Protestant Reformers were able to disseminate their ideas. Shared in the country’s vernacular, the use of Latin dramatically declined.

1300 - 1700

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THE RENAISSANCE

Printing stimulates the economy with the rise of industries related to printing. Books were now written in a range of subjects including music and travel – not just religion.

1611

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KING JAMES BIBLE

The first bible available in the English language is mass produced at the request of King James I.

1702

DAILY COURANT LAUNCHES AS THE FIRST ENGLISH PAPER

Located on Fleet Street, which became England’s newspaper district.

1769

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LITHOGRAPHY PRODUCES HIGH QUALITY PRINTS

Technique developed to repel ink from paper – except where it is required – resulting in clear, sharp printing.

1776

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AMERICAN DECLARATION OF INDEPENDNCE MASS PRODUCED

To enable this historic document to be easily shared with the masses.

1829

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BRAILLE IS INVENTED

Created by Frenchman Louis Braille, who lost his eyesight in childhood, this form of printing has revolutionised the lives of the blind.

Look at this amazing video of a modern day braille printer…made from lego!

1846

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CYLINDER PRESS DEVELOPED

8,000 sheets can now be printed per hour.

1865



DOUBLE SIDED PRINTER INVENTED

This advancement offered crucial cost-saving advantages to publishers.

1958

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FIRST COMMERCIAL PHOTOCOPIER MADE AVAILABLE

This device soon took pride-of-place in the offices of major companies.

1969

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XEROX DEVELOPS WORLD’S FIRST LASER PRINTER

Graduate Gary Starkweather, working in the copier department at Xerox in the US, created a radically different way to print. This printer would scan images, transfer them electrostatically, and then use heat to fuse tiny specs of toner dust on to a piece of paper.

1970S

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INKJET PRINTERS INVENTED

This form of printing simply hammers tiny dots of ink on to paper. Cost effective, these printers have become the go-to choice for home use.

2010

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IPAD RELEASED

Taking us closer to the concept of a paperless world.

2011

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FIRST 3D PRINTER RELEASED UNDER $10K

3D printing (or additive manufacturing) is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. Futurologists believe homes will soon be printing the objects they need rather than buying them from shops.

Heralding a new industrial revolution? Watch this film and join the debate.