Printed material allowed the world to share ideas, learn, and progress like never before. It unified people groups among varying social classes and different countries. It caused a commotion, spread literacy, threatened traditional beliefs, and enlightened many. And since as early as 868 A.D., it has been modified and reformed to improve. This is the story of print to which we owe our livelihood here at Documedia. As proud partakers and craftsmen in the world of printing, we aim to remember it’s roots.
The history of printing is believed to have begun in China. No one knows exactly when or by whom the idea was first coined. But a Buddhist book from Dunhuang, China called the Diamond Sutra is the oldest known printed material, dating back to 868 A.D. It was created with a method called block printing which was soon modified.
Movable type, which succeeded printing’s most primitive method, was first implemented by Bi Sheng (970-1051 A.D.) in China. It replaced the panels of printing blocks with single, movable letters that could be reused. These letters were carved into clay and arranged on an iron frame in opposition of the first use of wood which Sheng considered too porous and absorbent.
As the craft of printing became more refined, books helped develop the scholarly class in China. Massive printed books stood as a symbol of wealth and elevated status in the second century. And in 1297, the first mass-produced book was exported to Europe with artisan Wang Chen’s reimagined wood type press.
With Chen’s model of the press, the Chinese reigned as the world’s master printers for over 150 years. But, in 1450, German goldsmith and inventor, Johannes Gutenberg finalized Europe’s first printing press. And later, he developed the concept of replica casting that would make type available in large quantities.
In 1452, Gutenberg’s press produced 180 copies of the Bible. Each contained 1,300 pages with 42 lines per page, and some text in color. This incredible production gave people access to a text that was once unavailable, yet so meaningful to their lives. And from there, the print trade was shared with other craftsmen and spread throughout the rest of Europe.
In 1605, the first newspaper took to the streets of Strausberg, Germany. Such a milestone of mass-produced print was significant in the spread of literacy, uniformed information, and societal progress. And today, this ability to share news among the public is foundational to the prosperity of modern civilization.
Though the practice has undoubtedly evolved, we believe that print will stand the test of time as it continues to serve its primary purpose to share. And today, we at Documedia can print whatever you can imagine on just about anything. From your logo to your face, on all things from a t-shirt to a phone wallet, we’ve got you covered. We are proud to carry on this ancient and essential tradition. Reach out today for all of your printing needs!