From a very early age children are encouraged to sit and read with their parents, then later reading skills of their own develop and this is a skill cherished for life. The ability to read is the foundation of the print industry – and vice versa the ability to produce printed materials has lead to what we now take for granted, that literacy is a commonplace, basic life skill that everyone has a right to, with communication and the sharing of knowledge now taking place constantly.
The success story of print is well established throughout time, it has emerged from the simple ideal of producing books to share knowledge, to an industry which can produce an endless list of goods and growing everyday with advances in areas such as 3D printing. Here, we capture a potted history of print, outlining the significant developments made over hundreds of years:
1300 the most common form of print was using wooden blocks to print onto cloth
1400 paper became easily available
1450 moveable type print technology developed in Germany by Johannes Gutenberg, the letters being more uniform leading to typography and fonts
1469 the first press was built in Venice and by 1500 the city had 417 printers!
1476 printing press was set up in England by William Caxton
1796 Lithography was invented by Bavarian author Aloys Senefelder – this method is still widely used today for high-volume runs of posters etc
1800 Lord Stanhope had constructed a press entirely from cast iron, doubling the size of the printed area
1811 German printer Friedrick Koenig designed the first non-manpowered machine using steam
1843 the Rotary printing press invented which enabled printing to be done on long continuous rolls of paper/cloth etc
1870s Offset print was invented
1907 Screen printing was patented in England by Samuel Simon
1960s the Photocopier was brought to market
1969 saw the first laser printer produced by Xerox
1970 Dot matrix printers came to the market
1984 saw the first laser printed intended for mass markets thanks to the boom in personal computers
1986 early 3D printing is born in America
1993 Digital press came to the market
1998 saw the invention of Frescography
TODAY 3D printing is on the cusp of becoming acessable to the masses
Print today influences so much of our daily life. From the moment we wake we see photographs and canvas prints of loved ones; the cereal box is printed to identify the brand and the delicious product inside; our cars have printed air fresheners, tax discs and car park tickets in them; schools and doctors surgeries are full of informative brochures and posters; we follow road signs to work and see banner and A board and bill poster advertising as we drive; when we return home we check the post, ring the takeaway from the menu we had through the door then settle down to read our favourite book or magazine. Print is involved in every part of our day, in a really useful and friendly way. (Read more on our blog post ‘Is Print Dead?’)
It’s an established and thriving, over 700 year old industry, who’s major accomplishments include global communication, entertainment, innovation, leading technologies, and has become something that uniquely fulfils both the needs of business and domestic markets. And that isn’t going to be able to go anywhere any time soon.