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Chapter 11. Printing

Chapter 11. Printing

Printing is an ancient art, and has been invented and reinvented many times. You can print by rolling a carved cylinder over a sheet of wet clay, as the Mesopotamians did. Or you can smear a carved block of wood with ink and then press the block into a sheet of paper, as the Chinese started doing in the eighth or ninth century. With grease, water, and ink, even a slab of limestone can learn to transfer an image to paper, as Alois Senefelder of Munich found in 1798 (thereby inventing lithography).

In the fifteenth century, Gutenberg (and possibly others) came up with moveable type made of cast metal—which, in turn, transformed printing from a craft into an industry. Scribes the world over lamented the decline in the quality of written materials.


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