The "old" days of printing are a matter of definition. What do "old" and printing really mean? A cave man could print and duplicate an image on a rock wall or a supper fast color banner printer can print that same image on a variety of substrates. The concept of "old" is relative. Being specific is a matter of interest when it comes to the "old" days of printing. The "old" days, however, can be generally bookmarked if printing on a transportable material (past that of a smaller stone) is used as a defining element. Once this has been decided, one might start to think about a timeline for printing and the approximate time lines put forth by those supposedly in the know.
Chinese paper and ink
Some would suggest that the first printing from a wooden block was accomplished in China (618) when ink and block were put to paper. In this instance, paper might be disputed buy Europeans as they, of course, invented everything at that time (sarcasm.)
Moving to Korea
Again in deference to the Europeans, Koreans have been credited with the first use of movable type in 1241. Interestingly, although still in strong use today, moveable type from its original form is having a hard time competing with electronic digital imaging. The consideration of "old" in this event, however, is required because where "old" may be used in some parts of the world, "new" movable type may be in use in others since there has never been type print there in the past.
King James to the rescue
Jumping ahead a few hundred years to 1611, the Europeans finally caught up with the Asians in the world of printing when the King James Bible was published. The Asians had been printing books for ages by this time, as were Europeans to a degree, but with the publishing of the King James Bible a certain benchmark was established.
Waiting for mass paper
Again jumping a few centuries, the world finally started to reach what today’s world might come close to calling modern printing. For, in 1870 paper was finally mass produced from wood pulp. Now the masses could finally appreciate print for what it was really capable of being. Printing had advanced to the point where the masses could finally contribute to mass publishing with metal presses and moveable print.
In the general scope of things, the printing world started to move fairly quickly fro this point in history on. Printing for the masses got larger; with many fortunes being made, printing presses got larger and faster and Photogravure printing was invested. Finally and ultimately, photo typesetting was perfected in 1947. As inconsequential as this may sound, "modern" printing as we know it on the printer beside you was off and running. Printing may have moved on just a bit to the pixel level but when all is said and done (past previous remarks) we now print from images and movable print is done.
This Article is written by John C Arkin.
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