The evolution of printing and documentation is complex and long. Humanity has always wanted to retain what they experience. The human’s desire to record events is inveterate and was practiced even by the troglodyte. The Palaeolithic age to its credit has carvings to remind us of our origins and more than that it pointedly spread knowledge. Rather than just restricting their cognizance, they sought to dissipate it – to communicate better and develop an elevated understanding to what lay around them.
The earliest form of rationalized printing was in the form of the IClay – the world’s first tablet transcribed by the Sumerians. Contemplated to be one of the first urban civilizations, the Sumerians flourished in the historical arena of Southern Mesopotamia (today’s Southern Iraq). Their purpose to ‘document’ data was to invent writing for the advancement of language and articulation. Cylindrical seals were used to roll impressions onto clay tablets. By AD 868 the Diamond Sutra was the world’s earliest and first printed book to be circulated. Dating back to May 11, 868, precisely, the book belonged to the T’ang dynasty. The scroll is about 16 feet in length and a foot in height and was unexpectedly discovered in a cave at Dunhuang in the early 19th century.
From Bed and Platen to Cylinder Press
By 1397 AD, type characters with the aid of cast metal were being printed in Japan and China. Bed & Platen printing was an American bulwark invented by Daniel Treadwell, who even patented the model. Subsequently, in 1832 Hoe’s Cylindrical-Bed Press was invented by Richard Hoe that was much quicker. A patent had hitherto been filed by William Nicholson in 1790 for a rotary press for which Richard Hoe invented the drum that replaced the earlier designs in 1844. William Bullock, also an American inventor, improved upon Richard Hoe’s Rotary Printing Press and revolutionized the printing industry by incorporating speed, efficiency and accuracy into print production. He placed continuous and large rolls of paper into curved stereotype plates built for the purpose.
Father of Printers
It was only Johannes Gutenberg’s invention that mass communication changed for
the better marking the Western Culture’s need to disperse ideas and information
from a single source to large sets of audiences. It was a rigid merger of culture,
social, psychological, political and technological forces that had unfolded over
several centuries that conceptualized into mass communication. Gutenberg
was a goldsmith and a businessman who even borrowed finance to address the
printing gridlock. A wave of change spread swiftly across Europe beginning in the
1450s leading to an indispensable desire of documentation with the expansion of
trade and economy. In 1889, a Linotype/Monotype machine was invented in
Gutenberg’s workshop that could effortlessly print a complete set of lines.
Between 1906 and 1911 the Monotype and Linotype designs were incorporated
into the keyboard of a typewriter. Chester Carlson in 1938 invented a process
of printing images using a dry toner powder and an electrically-charged drum.
Thus, the original name of the Xerox was ‘xerography’, which meant dry printing.
Thereafter, the first high-speed printer was produced by Remington-Rand in 1953
for being used on the Univac or Universal Automatic Computer. Round about the
same time, Daisy S. Lee of Diablo Data invented the Daisy Wheel Printer, which
was an impact printing technology. It operated on the same principle as the
Dot, Daisy and Laser Printers
By 1970, print technology gained significant predominance and one of the first Dot Matrix printers the LA30 was produced by Digital Equipment Corporation. The technology deployed dots instead of whole keys to print characters on paper. In 1971, the initial laser printer EARS (Ethernet Alto Research Character generator Scanned laser output terminal) was invented by Gary Starkweather within just a few months of his joining PARC. It functioned on the lines of the Xerox Copier Technology but with an added a laser beam. In 1984, the first HP LaserJet infiltrated the market and was considered as the first desktop laser printer. Inkjet printers were built intelligently and revolutionized printing as we know it today. And so in 1988, the first inkjet printer was invented that offered high-quality and continuous plain-paper printing.
2003 Digital Era
Between 2003 and 2009, the digital era manifested and there was a swift progress in printing technology. Zoho Corp conferred the world with Additive Manufacturing alternatively known as 3D printing. In the same year, The Eastman Kodak Company known to the world popularly as Kodak introduced the first Printer-And-Camera-Dock and the Easy Share Printer. Customers could insert their cameras into a device built for the purpose and watch photos print themselves out. Epson went a step ahead again in the same year and granted humanity the flexibility of movement by introducing wireless printers. Finally, in the year 2009, Xerox introduced the Colorqube Technology that made the world colorful, because printouts were now in color. The future is definitely bright for printing technology with the advent of a range of devices that turn digital 3D models into solid objects.
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