Printing is a process used for making documents, pictures, and other forms of art or information. It involves using a combination of various techniques to reproduce text or images in a desired number of copies.
Historically, printing has been defined as the mechanical application of a certain quantity of colouring agent under pressure on a surface to form a body of text or an illustration. Today, however, certain modern processes for reproducing texts and illustrations are no longer dependent on the concept of pressure or on material concepts such as colouring agents.
Woodblock prints – Japan (about 764-770)
The earliest known printed works were made in Japan, where the technique of printing from a wood block is believed to have originated. The earliest prints were simple black and white pictures, but in the 1760s and 1770s, they began to be made in a variety of colours.
Movable type – Song China (about 790-900)
The Chinese had discovered the use of seals in the 4th or 5th century, but it was not until the 6th century that they developed the concept of ink and the corresponding techniques for producing the requisite quantity of colouring agent. They also learned to apply ink under pressure to surfaces bearing carved texts, thus producing the first books and religious works.
Paper – Europe and North America (about 800)
The field of printing is vast, and its role in the multiplication of knowledge has helped to engender radio, television, film, microfilm, tape recording, and many other new media. But while these other media have replaced some of printing’s traditional functions, it is still an important means of conveying information.