Printing History
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Printing -

Modern paper and print technology first originated in China. In 105 A.D., Tsai Lun invented the process for manufacturing paper, introducing the first use in China. The paper was superior in quality to the baked clay, papyrus and parchment used in other parts of the world.

By 593 A.D., the first printing press was invented in China, and the first printed newspaper was available in Beijing in 700 A.D. It was a woodblock printing. And the Diamond Sutra, the earliest known complete woodblock printed book with illustrations was printed in China in 868 A.D.

Chinese printer Pi Sheng invented movable type in 1041 A.D. Exported to the Western world, it is similar to the technology that German printer Johann Gutenberg used in the 1450s to produce his famous editions of the Bible.  The movable metal type was far superior to the woodletter blocks that were used before.  The metal was more durable than wood and it also allowed for better consistency between letters.  Woodletter still had a role to play in the printing industry.  When print shops would take on smaller projects such as movie posters they would use woodletter for its ease of use (wood is a lot lighter than lead) Small printing presses - known as parlour presses - were introduced in Victorian times, when printing became a hobby in the late 1800s.  These styles of printing were used all the way up until the 1950s.  Even today some smaller town papers still use movable type.


Type Cases

Printers would keep their type (letters) organized in type trays in a rack.  These type trays were also known as California Job Cases. Each case had about 89 small compartments of various sizes.  The letters were arranged in the compartments according to their frequency of use.  Also the more popular letters were given the larger compartments so that more could be stored there.

Prior to the adoption of the California Job Case, the capital letters were stored in a separate drawer or case that was located above the case that held the other letters; this is why capital letters are called "upper case" characters while the non-capitals are "lower case".


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