The History of Print Media

Currently, in the times of digital media and Information technology, the importance of print media is same as years before. May be it is the convenience of reading something anytime you want that makes the hardcopies remain more popular. Even in our offices where most of the business and information exchange are carried out through internet, stuff like laser tone cartridge and bulk ink are still very important part of office supplies. It seems like nothing is ever going to take the place of print media. While the usage of printing and print media seems to have no end even in the future, one really gets curious about the history of this media. Let us go back in time and trace back man’s first successful print making endeavor.

Many historians trace the history back to Mesopotamian times of around 3000BC but there are hardly any evidences to prove it. However first actual record is known to be of block prints used around 200AD in China. Initially it was used to print on clothes. As the usage of paper became common around China and East Asia, the same technique was used on paper as well. Nearly two centuries later the Romans also used the same printing techniques on both papers and clothes. The earliest example of a complete printed compilation along with illustrations is The Tiananmen scrolls. It was printed in China in 868 AD. In Korea, the same block technique was further enhanced by using metal rather than wood.

Later during the 9th and 10th century same technique was used in clay, wood, metal, stone and even glass in the Middle East. The Arabs and Egyptians used the technique to print prayer books and amulets. With the Arab invasion of Europe and Central Asia, this technique also travelled along. Yet in Europe also, it was used to print religious banners and scrolls mostly n fabric.

As this technique was taking over the world, the Chinese invented yet another technique in the 1040AD. This was the movable object printing. The basic technique was still the block method but the components were actually movable. The very first example of book printed with this method is a Korean book, ‘Jijki’. It required a lot of effort in moving the tablets around.

During 1843, a new technique was introduced by an American inventor, Richard March Hole. In this technique the image or text to be printed is rolled around a cylinder which is than pressed or rolled over the substrates. With few improvements done along time, his remained a very popular printing technique around the world.

Later, the offset printing was invented during 1875. The technique was initially developed to print on tin but now has become the most common type of printing used for paper. Although it is good for large scale printing purposes, the increase in daily printing requirements lead to the development of most latest printing technique, the laser printing. It is quick and convenient and the equipment is not too heavy or bulky. This is the technique home and office printers are based on.

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