Today’s Multi-Function Printers are so fast, powerful and versatile—and such an integral part of office life—that it is tempting to think of printers as a uniquely modern invention. But at every step of the way, advances in printing—like all innovations—have only come from the unceasing dedication to making the world and people’s lives better.
The very idea of history itself is connected deeply to printing—after all, history requires writing, and some of the earlier examples of writing we have come from stamps and seals, from around 3000 BCE. But printing has come a long way since then, growing ever more important to our lives along the way.
The Earliest Days of Moveable Type
While Johannes Gutenberg’s press was a pivotal invention in history, he actually was not the first person to develop a moveable metal type press. Korean monks had created the moveable metal press back in the early 13th century, and used it to publish books of rituals, poetry and other topics. However, Korea’s metal type printing was never commercialized like Gutenberg’s iconic invention.
The Chinese, too, explored printing technology in great depth over the centuries, including woodblock printing from around the sixth century, porcelain type and wood type around the 12th century, and other techniques.
Gutenberg Starts a Revolution
While many printing methods had been in use around the world for centuries, Gutenberg is of course the person we credit with ushering in the printing revolution, around the mid-15th century. More than just a press, though, what made Gutenberg so important was a whole series of inventions and innovations he made related to the press—molds for creating the individual pieces of metal type, the right alloy for type and the master copies of each letter. He also created a thicker, stickier type of ink that would adhere to the type better and not just wash off.
Unfortunately for Gutenberg, though, his invention never made him rich. He lost a lawsuit filed by one of his investors, and had to turn over some of his printing equipment. But Gutenberg’s loss was the world’s gain, as it help spread the pivotal invention, and in just a few decades there were hundreds of printing houses all over Europe. It truly was a revolution, and the way we related to the printed word would never be the same.
Printing Transforms Information, People’s Lives
Printing was about more than just books. The first newspapers began in the 17th century, grew more popular throughout the 18th century, and were a major force by the 19th century. In fact, between 1800 and 1860, the number of newspapers being published in the United States alone grew from about 200 to 3,000, showing how affordable and common this new printing technology was becoming—perhaps most notably with the rise of the Penny Press in 1833.
Technology—like the rotary press and offset printing—was making printing ever faster and cheaper, which meant more reachable for the masses.
Printers Come Into the Office
Other printing inventions, like the mimeograph and projection copiers like the Photostat, show how technology was continuing to bring down costs and boost accessibility. But for offices, the next big change came in the 1950s with the commercializing of the photocopier, which quickly became an office staple everywhere.
The rise of the computer also led to demand for printers. Inkjet, dot-matrix and laser printing technologies were developed throughout the 1950s and 1960s before getting commercialized in the 1970s, and since then all have been improved and steadily refined.
The scanning telefax machine also has roots going back to the 19th century, but only started to appear in the office in number in the 1960s, then growing truly ubiquitous in the 1980s. But once it did, the idea of sending documents and visual images anywhere in the world via phone wires quickly became essential to any office.
Samsung Continues Innovation Into the Future
That same ceaseless pursuit of excellence and improving people’s lives has driven Samsung’s printing solutions since 1982 when it entered the printing business. Today, printing, faxing, copying and all sorts of document management tools are combined together seamlessly in Samsung’s lineup of Multi-Function Printers. Smaller, faster and more accurate than ever before, today’s MFPs have revolutionized the office, offering people unprecedented functionality and flexibility.
With the addition of the Smart UX Center—an Android-based touch screen interface—Samsung is taking printing to the next level, standing on the shoulders of hundreds of years of printing giants. The only question is where will that drive to innovate and improve people’s lives take us next?
This printing history was written based on the following resources:
History World. ”History of Printing,” Historyworld.net.
Harry Ransom Center. “Books Before and After Gutenberg,” University of Texas at Austin.
American Printing History Association. ”History of Printing Timeline.” Printinghistory.org.
Christensen, Thomas. Rivers of Ink. Counterpoint Press, 2014.
Bringhurst, Robert. The Elements of Typographic Style. 4th ed. Hartley and Marks Publishers, 2013.