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The History of Commercial Printing

The History of Commercial Printing

The History of Commercial Printing

Commercial printing has existed for as long as people could record written language. However printing in the modern sense did not really occur on a mass scale until 1436 when Johannes Gutenberg developed a low cost solution that allowed printing on a massive scale. This allowed the Europeans to industrialize printing and make books affordable for the mass public which ultimately allowed for a rise in education and therefore an increase in the standard of living.

Printing Press

An early printing press

Printing had continued to be developed throughout history. When the industrial revolution came around, paper began to be massed produced and printing presses were improved to allow the introduction of newspapers. The consequences of printing were vast. In fact many historians will agree that the press played a significant role in the American, French, and even the Russian revolutions.

Since the quest for knowledge lies at the heart of every human being, the commercial printing industry had to continue to become creative. In the 1890s, graphic design was introduced into newspapers which allowed printers to publish photographs with their stories. The early forms of photojournalism required an engraving of the photo, which normally imposed limitations on how many pictures a printer could print. As the ability to print photos matured, you began to see newspapers with picture advertisements, magazines, and even mail in order catalogues.

Specialty printing also continued to grow as well. In 1823, Frenchman Louis Braille developed his code for the French Alphabet. It was meant to not only help the blind read, but since there was no electricity at the time, many people found the system beneficial for reading at night. Printing books in Braille required raise printing so that the bumps on the page could be felt by the reader. The commercial printing industry delivered and made published content available to millions of people who were blind. This allowed people who couldn’t read regular print to get an education.

Overtime commercial printing had to meet other requirements from the public. For example, architects and contractors began to print blueprints for buildings. This required printers to print on non standard paper sizes and lead to special stock printing. Magazines and newspaper advertisers wanted to make their content stand out and appear attractive to the general public. Thus UV gloss printing was developed to make high gloss content available. This also allowed for spot gloss printing for people who only wanted to make high gloss on certain parts of a print, say to highlight their name on a business card for example.

Today printing has grown into a massive industry. Printers have been able to print on laser printers, inkjet printers, or even print digital content. Many magazines are laid out completely on a computer prior to printing which allows for review. You can even get a 3D printer which allows you to print a model. Today, Graphic design is one of the huge industries related to printing and allows people to produce rich content from illustrations to newspapers, or even models. With advances in design programs and commercial printing, this industry will be ever evolving. What will tomorrow bring?

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