The History of Print

Printing has been around for a very long time! Printing at the University of Oregon has been around for a long time. To really understand the journey that printing has taken, a quick history lesson may be a good thing (we are at an institution of learning!). The "art" of duplication started around 3000 BC, when the Mesopotamian civilization used round cylinders to reproduce an image in clay. Small stamps carved from wood blocks were used by the Chinese to copy an image or symbol.
Fast forward to the mid-15th century when goldsmith Johann Gutenberg created a basis for what we can recognize as a giant leap in the evolution of print. He created moveable type where ink was transferred to paper via pressure.....eureka!....we have print that can be mass produced! The printing press has been replaced by the more modern process of offset printing. The term "offset" comes from the fact that the print image is actually "offset" from one cylinder to the sheet of paper.
The technology of using four colors to process an image is at the heart of today's print process; cyan, yellow, magenta, and black are the colors used to create a full-color image. Technological advances have made the print process more green and sustainable including processless printing plates, recycled papers, and the decreased use of harmful cleaning chemicals. Offset printing can print on paper that is both thick and thin, material that is made of synthetic material, and a wide variety of sizes.
With the advent of the office copy machine in the 1960's by Xerox, there was an evolution in the print industry. It was no longer necessary to have something printed when additional copies were needed. The desktop laser printer (based on the copy machine) was invented in 1969 by Xerox, it sped up the desktop publishing art form allowing for print-on-demand and personal computer work stations to be networked.
Today, digital color has evolved to a new height of quality. Digital presses can skip a number of the steps required in the offset print process. No need for printing plates, clear toner, inline finishing, and the use of a wide range of paper weights and materials. So, the journey of print has been a long one arriving at the destination of increased efficiencies, higher quality, and shorter turn times.