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Printing Timeline

Before 15,000 B.C. - Prehistoric man first painted art on the walls of his caves in what is now northern France and Southern Spain.

5,000 B.C. - The earliest Babylonian writings appeared.

3,500 B.C. - Papyrus came into use as a writing surface.

3,000 B.C. - Clay stamps were used to validate written messages. Clay tablets were also used as a writing surface.

750 B.C. - Greek inscriptions were carved into stone slabs with a hammer and chisel.

200 B.C. - A method of refining parchment from sheepskin was discovered - supposedly by the King of Pergamum. The name "parchment" is derived from "Pergamum."

105 A.D. - Ts’ai Lun, a Chinese monk, announced the invention of paper to Emperor Chien Ch’u. The first paper was made from mulberry and other barks, fish nets, hemp and rags.

400 A.D. - True ink was invented from lamp-black and used in China for brush writing and later for woodblock printing.

450 A.D. - Seals were printed with true ink. This was the first instance of actual printing with an incised stamp upon paper.

650 A.D. - The Chinese Buddhist monks first experimented with the duplication of images by rubbings, charm blocks and stencils. This was the forerunner of the true block printing of the 9th century.

868 A.D. - The Diamond Sutra, the first printed book, was printed. It is a roll sixteen feet in length and was the original form of Chinese book printing.

1035 A.D. - Waste paper was first repulped and used as a material for papermaking. The birth of recycling.

1041 A.D. - Movable type was invented in China by Pi Sheng, but because the Chinese characters did not lend themselves to the technique, the invention had little use in that country. Rather than an alphabet, the Chinese used thousands of "symbols." That made for a pretty difficult job in sorting their "type."

1282 A.D. - Italy became the first European country to use watermarks. From the period between the 13th and 16th centuries, over 16,000 individual watermarks have been identified.

1298 A.D. - Marco Polo reported that during his trip to China, he witnessed the printing of paper money.

1309 A.D. - Paper was first used in England.

1403 A.D. - The Royal type foundry in Korea produced the first movable type in that country. The Koreans found the process very practical and used it extensively. It was more practical for them than the Chinese because they had less than 100 characters in their alphabet.

1423 A.D. - The earliest dated European woodblock print. It shows St. Christopher bearing the infant Christ.

1454 A.D. - The earliest and first dated document printed from movable type in Europe. It is a 30-line indulgence granted by Pope Nicolaus V to those who donated money for the struggle against the Turks. This is attributed to Gutenberg.

1455 A.D. - The 42-line Bible known as The Gutenberg Bible was completed by Fust and Schoeffer. This was the first major effort in Europe using movable type. Gutenberg started the work, then lost his company when he was unable to pay loans made by Fust.

1462 A.D. - The first printer’s mark or "device" was used by Fust and Schoeffer of Mainz, Germany. This printer’s mark is now the official logo of the International Association of Printing House Craftsmen, or the Craftsmen’s Club.

1469 A.D. - The first use of Roman type in printing.

1477 A.D. - William Caxton brought the art of printing to England.

1501 A.D. - Aldus Manutius introduced his famous series of classics. It was in these that the italic form of type was first used. These were history’s first "pocket books."

1540 A.D. - The first printing was done in North America when Juan Pablos printed Manuel de Aldutos. Pablos is believed to have printed an earlier book but no trace of it has turned up.

1563 A.D. - By Letters of Patent of Charles IX of France, it was forbidden for any French printer to print without permission under penalty of being hanged or strangled. More than one printer found himself at the end of a noose for the violation of this law.

1639 A.D. - Elizabeth Glover set up the first printing plant in the Colonies. Her pressman, Stephen Daye (or possibly Daye’s son, Matthew) printed the first book in the Colonies, when the Cambridge (Mass.) Press printed The Whole Booke of Psalmes, more commonly known as The Bay Psalm Book. Only five copies are known to exist.

1655 A.D. - The first true English language newspaper, and the oldest existing newspaper, The London Gazette was published. The first 23 issues were called The Oxford Gazette. After the plague, when the Crown moved back to London from Oxford, the newspaper moved also.

1702 A.D. - History’s first daily newspaper was established when Elizabeth Mallett issued The Daily Courant in England.

1711 A.D. - Addison and Steele first issued The Spectator, considered to be one of journalism’s finest accomplishments.

1724 A.D. - Benjamin Franklin arrived in London and obtained employment as a printer’s apprentice in the shop of Samuel Palmer.

1728 A.D. - William Get perfected stereotype printing.

1731 A.D. - Edward Cave brought out his highly successful periodical, The Gentleman’s Magazine. This was the first publication to use the name "magazine" in its title.

1735 A.D. - The trial of John Peter Zenger, where he was found not guilty of libel. This was the first time truth was used as a defense against libel. The trial defined the fact that the truth cannot be considered libelous.

1768 A.D. - Abel Buell was the first to cut and cast type in the American Colonies.

1769 A.D. - The first printing press made by an American craftsman was the work of Isaac Doolittle, a clock and watchmaker.

1794-98? A.D. - Aloys Senefelder invented the planographic method of printing known as lithography.

1812 A.D. - Konig built the first automatic printing press and installed it in the offices of The London Times.

c1815 A.D. - Samuel Bangs first set up his printing press on Galveston Island - making him the first printer in Texas. He was captured by the Mexicans and sent to Mexico City where he became that country’s public printer.

1824 A.D. - William Pickering introduced his "Diamond Classics," the first books to be bound in bookcloth. Prior to this time, if you purchased a book from a printer, you got the folded signatures wrapped in paper. You would take these to your favorite bookbinder for binding.

1833 - The first mass produced newspaper in America, The New York Sun, was issued. The publication sold for one penny, and thus the name, "the penny press."

1863 A.D. - Thomas Nast, the famous illustrator, introduced the image we now have of Santa Claus with his front page woodcut in Harper’s Weekly. Nast also created the image of the Republican Elephant, Democratic Donkey, and Tammany Tiger, as well as the image we now use for Uncle Sam.

1880 A.D. - Stephen Horgan printed the famous illustration "Shantytown" in the New York Daily Graphic. This was the first halftone photograph printed.

1886 A.D. - Ottmar Mergenthaler set up the first successful automatic typesetting machine in the offices of The New York Tribune.

1902 A.D. - Willis Carrier, while trying to build a dehumidifier for a New York printer, accidently discovered air conditioning. The air conditioning was a byproduct of the dehumidifier.

1952 A.D. - With the printing of The Wonderful World of Insects, electronics had at last come to the printing plant. This book was the first work which used the phototype process to commercially set type.

1961 A.D. - The introduction of the first Xerox machine.

1980 A.D. - The first operating 15th century style printing plant and type foundry on the North American continent opened at a Texas renaissance theme park by this author as an educational exhibit. That press and type foundry is now on display at the Kwik Kopy (ICED) world headquarters in Cypress, Texas.

1980 A.D. - The advent of the Internet.

1999 A.D. - inkol.com opens its doors to provide inexpensive user-friendly solutions to easily publish information on the Internet.