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The history of print technology

Throughout history printing pioneers continued to make small steps, that have all contributed to the amazing print technology we all take for granted today.

Throughout history printing pioneers continued to make small steps, that have all contributed to the amazing print technology we all take for granted today.


Like many facets of technology, and even civilization as a whole, print technology has grown exponentially since its 7th century origins. It is now almost 1,400 years since the T’ang Dynasty in China pioneered the art of printing by using ink on carved wooden blocks to make multiple transfers of image to paper.

This interactive storymap by international plastic card printer Colourfast Printing  explores the history of print technology from 618 AD to the present day. Over the course of that time, steps have gradually been taken to revolutionize printing, including:

  • The advent of paper mills in Europe in the 14th century,
  • The invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg,
  • Publication of the first weekly newspaper in Belgium in the early 17th century,
  • Louis Braille’s historic embossed printing for the blind (which now bears his name and is used to this day),
  • Photogravure printing in 1871,
  • The dawn of laser, 3D and digital printing in the latter stages of the 20th century.

Considering that we now regard digital printing as a facet of everyday life, it is remarkable to think of how print technology has grown over time. Each step along the way, from the T’ang Dynasty to Benny Landa’s digital printing breakthrough, has been revolutionary for its time, and it is impossible to predict the advances in printing technology that are yet to come.

Check out the fully interactive storymap below:

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