A Brief History…

We take for granted the fact that we type a letter or some other document, hit Control P, and we instantly have a printed document in our hands.


We print on a daily basis: spreadsheets, memos, reminders, calendars…the list goes on an on.


But who remembers the sounds of a dot matrix printer zipping back and forth over a sheet or rolled paper? Moreover, who remembers typing on actual typewriters? One mistake and you had to get the gooey white out and try to salvage what you were working on.


At the time, we thought those were the biggest hassles, slowing us down and jamming our schedules even more than they already were.


Today, we get miffed if our wireless printer doesn’t immediately spit out the document that we sent through the air.


But when you stand back and look at printing from the very beginning, we’ve all had it quite easy the entire time.


The earliest documented printing was back in the second century in ancient China, when wooden blocks were used to transfer images of flowers on to silk. By the fourth century, woodblock printing on cloth was being practiced in Roman Egypt.


The Chinese began printing on paper in the seventh century and created the very first book, the Diamond Sutra, in 868.


Around 1040 Pi Sheng invented the first movable printing system in China. Using portable metal pieces to form letters, this device made the printing of books more efficient and flexible. The “machines” were, however, made of clay and broke easily.


By the mid fifteenth century several European print masters were toying around with metal letters and pieces. One named Johannes Gutenberg created an alloy of tin, lead, and antimony that melted at a low temperature, making it ideal for die casting and durable enough for the printing process.


Rather than cast full words and phrases, Gutenberg created the mirror image of each letter, allowing them to be placed into a “press.”


Gutenberg’s printing press has been referred to as the most influential invention of all time, contributing to the wide spread practice of reading and the furthering of the human race with global increased literacy.

Gutenberg’s first printing project was what is now referred to as the Gutenberg Bible. He managed to print a total of 200 copies of the Bible and he offered them for sale at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1455.


Although the few remaining intact copies (21 are known to exist) are privately owned, the last complete copy sold was in 1987 for an estimated $5.4 million.


Individual “leaves” have come to auction and have gone for as much as the equivalent of $21,000 per page.


(Suddenly books don’t seem so expensive, do they?)


We hope you enjoyed this little history lesson, and as always, the whole Kinetica Print team is standing by waiting to help with all of your print and design needs. Feel free to reach out to us right here!


Sources: Wikipedia.com, rarebooksdigest.com