Origin and History of Print Media

Currently, in the times of digital media and Information technology, the value of print media is the same as years before. Maybe it is the ease of reading something anytime you want that makes the hardcopies remain more prevalent. Even in our offices, where most of the business and information exchange are carried out through the internet, stuff like laser tone cartridge and bulk ink is still an essential part of office supplies.

It seems like nothing is ever going to take the position of print media. While the usage of printing and print media seems to have no end even in the prospect, one really gets curious about the history of this media. Let us go back in time and trace back man’s first flourishing printmaking endeavor.

Many historians determine the history back to Mesopotamian times of around 3000BCE but there are hardly any pieces of evidence to prove it. However, the first actual record is known to be of block prints used around 450 BCE in India. Initially, it was used to print on clothes. As the usage of paper became common around India and East Asia, the same technique was used on paper as well. Nearly a few centuries later, the Romans also used the same printing experience and techniques on both papers and clothes. The most pioneering 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, the 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 traveled along. Yet in Europe also, it was used to print religious banners and scrolls mostly in fabric.

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

In 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 then pressed or rolled over the substrates. With few improvements done along time, this remained a very popular printing technique around the world.

Later, offset printing was invented in 1875. The technique was originally developed to print on the 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 leads to the evolution of most latest printing techniques, laser printers. It is quick and comfortable and the equipment is not too heavy or bulky. This is the technique home and office printers are based on.

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