A Short History of Printing

A Short History of Printing

Show Video

Hello. Today I am going to talk about the  important inventions in printing throughout   history. Now, this is no means a comprehensive  history of printing but rather the highlights   of printing that have impacted graphic design  throughout history. So to begin we need to go  

back about 1800 years from the invention of  the telegraph to the first century in China. During the Eastern Han Dynasty around 104 a.d,  a eunuch of the imperial court named Cai Lun   invented a new type of paper, here seen on the  left. It was said that he took bamboo fibers  

and the inner bark of a mulberry tree. He then  added water to these and pounded them using a   wooden tool when they were pounded thoroughly he  poured the whole mixture over a flat woven cloth   letting the water drain out. When it was  dried, only the fibers remained and with   this Lun realized he had made a lightweight  material that had a good writing surface.   So you can imagine that having a  writing surface that was lightweight   allowed for more information to be stored in  a smaller amount of space and carried easily. Woodblock printing or the woodblock that you see   in the middle here was invented  in 220 a.d in china as well. The ability to reproduce one image quickly  started here. It was limited though to just  

one design. Could you imagine if you had  a typo and had to recarve the whole block?   To solve this problem Bi Sheng invented  moveable type. All the way on the right   and the printing press. This is still in  China. Moveable type was invented around 1025   using wood but because of the unevenness and  grain of the wood, they created moveable type   out of ceramic clay for a better impression in  the paper. And just for reference, the Chinese  

alphabet had over 20,000 characters of which an  educated Chinese person will know about 8,000. Moving over to Europe from China about 400 years  later we have Johannes Gutenberg inventing metal   moveable type and a printing press to handle  that movable type. This can also be considered   letterpress. The actual printing press is a  little bit different for letterpress, though.   He invented moveable type by casting the type  on a matrix and hand mold. The small number of  

alphabetic characters, 26 for English, needed  for European languages was an important factor   in its acceptance and widespread use. Gutenberg  was the first to create his type pieces from   an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony. And these  materials remain standard for the next 550 years.   If you are ever in the letterpress  studio in Carnegie we actually have some   metal type you can see and we also have  a very large selection of wood type.

At this time in Europe, there are only 30,000  books. Johannes Gutenberg started the printing   revolution and just for reference  and comparison one could replicate   3,600 printed pages a workday with Gutenberg's  press, versus only 40 pages by hand printing with   other presses, and then only two to three pages by  hand copying. So that definitely sped things up.   Up until this point in Europe, books were  copied by monks by hand or were printed   using woodblocks making the duplication  of books expensive, time-consuming, and   generally reserved for aristocrats and religious  institutions. So if you were a commoner you may   have had to travel in order to actually read a  book. The arrival of mechanical moveable type  

printing made the replication of books cheaper  and more widely available to the everyday person.   Introducing the era of mass communication which  permanently altered the structure of society.   The relatively unrestricted circulation  of information and revolutionary ideas   transcended borders, captured the masses and the  reformation, and threatened the power of political   and religious authorities. The sharp increase  in literacy broke the monopoly of the literate   elite on education and learning and bolstered  the emerging middle class. And I would say   all classes. Well middle and lower class. The  printing press spread within several decades   to over 200 cities in a dozen European countries  and by 1500, about yeah by 1500 printing presses   in operation throughout Western Europe had  already produced more than 20 million volumes. So  

in the span of 50 years, we go from 30,000  books in Europe to 20 million books in Europe.   In the 16th century with presses spreading further  afield their output rose tenfold to an estimated   150 to 200 million copies. The operation of  a press became synonymous with the enterprise   of printing and lent its name to a new medium  of expression and communication "the press." If you would like to pause the video  and then go into the description   and click on the link for the Gutenberg press you  can see how this press actually works. So you can   take a look at the affordances, signifiers,  constraints, conceptual mapping, and whatnot.  

\Because I can probably guess that just  by looking at the photo on this slide   you might not have any idea of how that works  or how it might interact with the human body. So go ahead and pause the video take  a look at that and then come back. Okay. What did you think of that?  Quite the, quite the invention? Although the Chinese had been mass-producing books  since the 9th century, now it was possible to   speed up the process without sacrificing quality.  Gutenberg's inventions did not make him rich  

but it did lay the foundation for the commercial  mass production of books. Johannes Gutenberg's   bible seen here on the screen is probably the  most famous Bible in the world. It is the earliest   full-scale work printed in Europe using moveable  type. Printed in 1455 by Johannes Gutenberg   and his associates Johann Fust and Peter  Schoeffer, there's an interesting story here.   A little bit of drama. Johann fust  wound up loaning Gutenberg some money  

to print the bible back in 1450 or so, because it  took him about five years to print these bibles. In 1455 right almost when Gutenberg was done with  these bibles Fust sued Gutenberg for non-payment   and the court sided with Fust and Gutenberg lost  his rights to his printing shop and consequently,   Fust and Schoeffer finished out the printing  and subsequently profited off of the bible but   they still credited Gutenberg for the printing.  Kind of a mixed bag on that story good and bad. Only 48 copies are known to have survived of  which 12 are printed on vellum and 36 on paper.   20 of those are complete two of them are  at the British Library. One printed on   paper and one on vellum. And many copies  including the British Library's paper copy  

married the new technology  of printing with the old   and hand-painted decorations to imitate the  appearance of an illuminated manuscript.   So as you see here on the right the opening page  begins with a large letter i which fills most of   the left-hand margin. Similarly in the second  column, the letter p extends into the space   between the columns. Inside the letter is King  Solomon wearing a white crown and a red and white   cape. In addition, the page is decorated with  birds and a climbing monkey. It's quite a lot. Some interesting points aside  from what you see on the screen.   Like I said it took them about five  years to complete and the size of these   pieces or sheets of paper is a little  over 11 and three-quarters inch wide   by about 16 and a half inches tall. So what I  would like you to do is pause the video real quick  

and get out your tape measurer and measure  out 11 and three-quarter inches wide by 16.6   inches tall. And then think about how you would  experience this book. How you would hold it up.   Over on the left-hand side on screen  this book was 14 pounds that's a lot.

So measure, think about that, and then come back. Okay, so what did you think about that? It's quite  a large unwieldy size to be able to look at it   close to your body and holding it upright would  definitely build your biceps with that. The large   margins allowed illuminated decoration to be added  by hand. In addition to the pages being printed  

there would need to be another person that  would illustrate the amount of decoration,   depending on how much each buyer could or would  pay. So if you didn't want to pay for that you   didn't have to have it. If you wanted to pay for  it of course you could have whatever you wanted. In the description, there's also  a link to see the actual bible.   I think it's through the University of Texas.  then we move along about 300 years later   lithography is invented by the German  author and actor Alois Senefelder   as a cheap method of publishing theatrical  works. Although it can be used to print text  

or artwork onto paper although it can be used  to print oh wait a second I messed that up. It can be used to print text or artwork  onto paper or another suitable material.   Lithography originally used an image drawn with  oil, fat, or wax onto the surface of a smooth   level lithographic limestone plate. The stone was  treated with a mixture of acid and gum arabic.   Etching the portions of the  stone that were not protected   by the grease-based image. When the  stone was subsequently moistened,   I don't care for that word uh, these etched areas  retained water. An oil-based ink then is applied  

and it would be repelled by the water. Sticking  only to the original drawing. The ink would   finally be transferred to a blank sheet of paper  producing a printed image. And I believe if you   are in printmaking here at Drake you can learn  how to do this process. So again you can pause   the video and then take a look at the video link  for the lithography process in the description.

To see how it actually  works and then come on back. Okay. What did you think of  that? Quite an involved process.   Think of the impact that this had on the  replication of images and the more photo-realistic   quality of images even though photography wasn't  quite invented yet. About a century later one of  

the largest traveling circus acts in America was  using lithography to advertise for their events.   Lithography allowed the artist and printer  to make multiple copies of one design   quickly and efficiently printing with layers,  of course. For each color here notice the lively   colors and almost realistic but still fictional  replication of animals and people. Lithography was   also used for product packaging during this time  and up until the mid-1950s. If you wind up seeing   an old cracker tin or a label on an old wooden  crate odds are that it was printed by lithography. Around 1839, this was about 40 years  after lithography was invented,   in the mid-1820s Joseph Niépce first managed  to fix an image that was captured by the camera   but needed at least eight hours to several days of  exposure on the camera to produce an image and the   results were pretty crude. Niépce associate Louis  Daguerre went on to develop the daguerreotype  

process which was the first publicly announced  and commercially viable photographic process.   The daguerreotype required only minutes of  exposure in the camera and produced clear finely   detailed results. The details were introduced  to the world in 1839 a date generally accepted   as the birth year of practical photography.  Which is what you see here on the screen.  

Subsequent innovations made photography easier and  more versatile. New materials reduced the required   camera exposure time from minutes to seconds  and eventually to a small fraction of a second.   New photographic media were more economical,  sensitive, and convenient. This innovation   gave society a way to document reality  that could not be replicated in a drawing   painting or woodblock print. Think about how  a user would experience the resulting photo.   Remember up until this point people just enjoyed  drawings, sketches, paintings, and lithography.  

This was huge, especially a century  later when we entered world wars and   were able to document the horrors of  war through real-time photography. About 50 years later when the industrial  revolution was underway about 1877-1878.   And scholars were obsessed with identifying  cataloging and potentially mechanizing   nature. Muybridge's photo sequence  of a moving horse was a milestone.   Remember at this time the horse was the  source of all locomotion of importance.   No automobiles yet but there were trains.  We went to war on horses and any kind of  

large-scale movement was done on horses. So to  understand how they moved was really critical.   For years the public debated  the workings of a horse's gallop   the "unsupported transit controversy" asked  whether or not all four of a horse's hooves came   off the ground when it runs. And this apparently  polarized both scientists and casual observers.   But I mean really? This is what divided people?  One person with a big stake in this debate was   not a scientist but a racehorse enthusiast, Leland  Stanford the 19th-century robber baron and founder   of Stanford University, who was as ambitious as he  was wealthy and believed that emerging technology   would help settle the "unsupported transit  controversy." One of the stories that you   often hear or read is that Stanford placed  a bet with the owner of the San Francisco   newspaper for $25,000 which is the equivalent  of $620,000 of today's money. And the camera was  

going to prove whether or not the horse had all  four legs suspended in the air when galloping. That may be an exaggeration but what is true,  though, is that to make his fastest racehorses   go faster Stanford wanted to understand the  most granular details about how they moved   and he believed the photographer  Eadward Muybridge would help him do it.   Muybridge set up a series of cameras with trip  wires to activate the cameras. When the race was   over he developed the photos on-site to show the  audience so there would be no doubts about it.   And as you see here all four  legs do come off the ground.

In order to view his work, he had to invent  a machine that would spin images around to   make it look like they were moving. So he wound  up inventing the zoopraxiscope. A device that   created the primitive gif-like image of a running  horse that many people associated with Muybridge.   It would project sequential images that were  traced from a photograph onto a glass disk. When   the disks spun rapidly and consistently it created  a looping moving picture of a galloping horse.   So in many ways, this  invention was a frustrating one   after producing groundbreaking  photography Muybridge's work can only   be enjoyed as motion pictures if they're  reproduced on drawings on a glass disc. Remember there was no TV at this point in time  and this would have been considered entertainment.  

Feel free to pause the lecture and in  the description area, there's a link   to the video so you can see how  the zoopraxiscope actually works. Okay, welcome back. Pretty interesting?  Moving along. In 1875, so around   this time offset printing is invented. And  offset printing is a common technique in   which the image is transferred, or offset, from  an image plate that is inked to a rubber blanket   and then onto the printing surface. When used  in combination with the lithographic process,   which is based on the repulsion of oil and water,  the offset technique employs a flat image carrier.   Ink rollers transfer ink to the image areas of  the image carrier while a water roller applies   a water-based film to the non-image areas. So  this image, this method of printing is still  

in use today and is the most efficient  process for printing publications with   a quantity over a thousand copies. Today's web  offset printing process feeds a large roll of   paper through a large press machine in several  parts. Typically for several meters which then   prints continuously as paper is fed through,  typically used for newspaper printing. So this   would be one gigantic roll of paper that would  roll through the printer, the offset printer,   continuously. So you wouldn't be feeding sheet  by sheet but it would just be one gigantic roll.

Development of the offset press came in two  versions in 1875 by Robert Barclay of England   for printing on tin and in 1904 by Ira Washington  Rubel of the United States for printing on paper.   This revolutionized the turnaround time from  design to print to being in the hands of users.   And it can print 270 sheets of paper  per minute. Quite a difference from   Gutenberg's printing press. So in a little over  14 minutes of printing offset would exceed the   number of pages Gutenberg can print on his  press in one whole day. Amazing, Amazing.

Moving along quite a bit actually. About 60-70 years later  phototypesetting is invented. And phototypesetting   machines project characters onto film for  offset printing. In 1949 the Photon Corporation   in Cambridge Massachusetts developed equipment  based on the Lumitype of Renee Higonnet and Lewis   Moyroud. The Lumitype-Photon was first used to  complete published books in 1953 and for newspaper   work in 1854. The major advancement presented by  the phototypesetting machines over the linotype  

machine or moveable type in Gutenberg's  press was the elimination of metal type. This "cold type" technology phototypesetting  could also be used in office environments where   hot metal machines, lead type, letterpress,  and moveable type could not. The use of   phototypesetting grew rapidly in the 1960s when  software was developed to convert marked-up copy,   usually typed on paper tape to the codes that  control the phototypesetters. This method of   preparing images for print lasted well into the  late or lasted well into the 1980s when computers   became more available and software was developed  to export designs. In 1984 the Apple computer was   released and it would be a paradigm shift in  the world of graphic design. From compositions   pasted together for photo setting to digital  files that would print directly to the printer.  

And if you're interested in seeing  how phototypesetting actually works   pause the video and in the description  is a link to the YouTube video. So that was quite a process of  putting your work together to   then send it to the phototypesetter  to then produce the work for print. And seven years later after the Apple computer  was released we have the ability to print from   a computer image file directly to a printer as  a final output. The greatest difference between  

digital printing and traditional methods such as  lithography or letterpress or movable type is that   there's no need to replace printing plates.  Whereas in analog printing the plates and or   movable type are repeatedly replaced. This results  in quicker turnaround times, the lower cost when   using digital printing, and the ability to print  small quantities with the quality of an offset. Let me start that again. This results in  quicker turnaround time and lower cost when  

using digital printing and with digital printing,  you have the ability to print smaller quantities   than that with the quality of an offset print.  The most popular methods include inkjet or laser   printers that deposit pigment or toner onto a  wide variety of substrates including paper, photo   paper, canvas, glass, metal, marble, and other  substances. Inkjet printers are smaller printers   along with our large format printer in Carnegie,  they lay a thin layer of ink on the substrate   which the ink permeates. So it soaks in. Laser  printers on the other hand, lay a thin layer   of pigment powder that is then baked onto  the paper with a diffuser fluid and heat   like the color printer in Carnegie Hall  and like you see here on the screen. So bringing this all together through  the lens of human-centered design.   Printing focuses on the people. So the printers  and designers, how work gets prepared to print,  

then how does it get printed. Each machine along  the way considered the best way to print but not   always the easiest way by the human operator. So  ergonomics and human factors haven't always been   considered, but that transition from the designer  to the actual print has been. Finding the problem.   The ability to disseminate thoughts and  communicate information in a lightweight   long-lasting and portable way. Thinking of it all  as a system. So settling on a language, a way to  

represent the characters of that language,  devising a way to replicate the characters   and complex thoughts that would be easy to manage  within the capabilities and dimensions of a body.   And then what is the end result we care about?  Being able to spread ideas and language like I   talked about with Gutenberg's press. Dissemination  of ideas leads to a spread of knowledge and power   to benefit everyone. Thank you for hanging in  there and listening all the way to the end!

2021-02-15 10:01

Show Video

Other news