1147 Melrose Street Spokane Valley, WA 99206 509-944-1700 info@rhinoprintsolutions.com

The Genesis Of Printing: How It All Began

Printing History


Education and the spread of information were revolutionized by printing. Before, disseminating information was sluggish because people had to handwrite copies of documents. These days, info can be available in a jiffy! From isolated communication, today people have mass communication

How Did it Begin?


Mesopotamians used clay tablets as paper, using round cylinders to impress images in 3000 BC. That must have been difficult, huh? Later in the 2nd century, Tsai Lun invented paper using the bark of the mulberry tree and bamboo fibers in China. Far along into the 10th century, the Arabs made paper using linen fibers. Books became written on paper throughout the years. And books then were different from the books you use now.

Jacob Le Blon
Jacob Christoph Le Blon


Do you know what a woodcut is? It’s the predecessor of the printing machines at present. It was basically composed of wood, on which images and texts were carved. The blocks were stamped with ink made from soot and oil. These were called blocking woods, and were used widely in Germany. You probably couldn’t imagine books being made out of this — and you’re right! They had to be handwritten and there were very few copies of each book.


The printing press wasn’t invented until the 15th century in Germany. A man by the name Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press made of wood. One of the first few printed outputs were Bibles. The Gutenberg press then set on a series of revisions of its kind, by different people.


“Facsimile” is where the word “fax” came from. The first facsimile, a close reproduction of an originally printed material, was printed by Christopher Plantin in Belgium in the 17th century. Then, Jakob Christoph Le Blon made the first colored engraving on print in the 18th century. There was a shift in the 19th century, when instead of wood, a printing press made with an iron frame was used. It was built by the British Charles Stanhope.


Another turn happened in the 20th century when Englishman Samuel Simon was awarded a patent for inventing screen printing. Silk and linen fabric were used as a printing screen, hence, silk screen printing!


Did you ever wonder where “Xerox” came from? Well, here’s a tidbit: In 1938, Chester Carlson invented xerography, a technique on dry photocopying. The Haloid Company, known as Xerox, later commercialized xerography. The Xerox copier made a huge impact on the print industry in 1959. Eventually, Fuji, IBM, and Apple invented laser printers. Digital printers were manufactured in 1993, which are the direct predecessors of your printers now. And in this day and age, you have high-speed inkjets.



Imagine, from block woods to digital press, humanity has gone far! 

8 thoughts on “The Genesis Of Printing: How It All Began”

  1. This how great the impact of printing is huge. They play the important part in the history. Printing absolutely came a long way from stones or clay tablets to digital today.

  2. Printing when it was first began was surely a hard time. Using clay tablets as a paper back in the days. Wow!

  3. Xerox has made the job simple by copying another in one paper. Definitely, printing makes us life simplier and easier.

  4. Facsimile is sure not that easy to pronounce. That’s why they call it ‘fax’ for a better name.

  5. There’s no other one who can give our deepest gratitude to Johannes Gutenburg. Without him printing would not go far.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *