Printing technology has come a long way in 1400 years. The digital printing that we take for granted today would not be possible without all the people who worked hard to improve our printing processes along the way. These technologies don’t just happen overnight, and the beginnings of printing in the T’ang dynasty in 618 still influence even modern printing developments.
The single most important development in printing was the printing press. It enabled for the first time the mass production of printed books and even led to the mass production of newspapers. The mass production of newspapers changed the way the world operates and paved the way for the world’s first newspaper called ‘The Relation’. Many more newspapers appeared soon after and they became the most widely read secular material in the late 17th century. The rise of newspapers allowed people to stay up to date with world news on a daily basis and changed the way we live our lives.
Until the late 20th century, the printing press, with certain refinements and increased mechanization, remained the principal means of printing. It really is amazing that an invention from 1440 was relied upon for over 500 years. The world without a printing press would be an entirely different one and its influence cannot be understated. In more recent times technology that enables 3D printing is becoming more popular. Interestingly, when Chuck Hull came up with the invention, he knew that it would take between 25 and 30 years before the technology would be used in homes. His prediction proved correct as it is only in recent years that 3D printing has become more popular.
Click on the story map, created by Colourfast, to explore some of the most important locations and moments in printing history over the last 1400 years.