The Information Age

Daguerreotype Process Made Public

August 19, 1839:



Image Source: “Daguerrotype,” California Museum of Photography (accessed December 14, 2011).












Kodak Begins Selling Kodak Brownie



For more milestones in photography, see:




Source: “List of Brownie Models,” George Eastman House Collection, (accessed October 3, 2011).

Source: “The Kodak Brownie @ 100 Years,” Kodak, (accessed October 3, 2011).

Cave Painting

Screen Printing

Screen printing is a technique that involves a woven mesh with an ink-blocking stencil.  The stencil forms areas of mesh that transfers the ink by being pressed through the mesh onto a substrate.  A roller (like a paint roller) is then used to move the stencil, forcing or pumping ink past the threads of woven mesh.  They became quite popular due to its ease of use and ability to generate flourescent colors.  People bought materials for making there own screen printer just so that they could in return sell many of the items that they printed.

Source: Angela Sheng, “Why Ancient Silk Is Still Gold: Issues in Chines Textile History,” Ars Orientalsvol. 29 (1999), 147-168, (accessed October 2, 2011).

Source: Kenneth M Sweezy, “Silk-Screen Printing,” Popular Science vol. 131, 128, 77-78.

Image Source: “Seperations for Screen Printing,” (accessed September 20, 2011).

Printing Press takes off in Europe

By the year 1500, Gutenberg’s printing press throughout Western Europe was able to create twenty million copies.  In the following century, that amount rose to an estimated two-hundred million.  Also by 1500, over 110 different areas held local printers.  This statistic is a very telling one, for it shows the power of Johannes Gutenberg’s invention and how its impact spread over Germany, Italy, France, England, and the other smaller Western European countries.

Source: Febvre Lucien and Henri-Jean Martin, The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing, 1450-1800 (London: New Left Books, 1976), 58.

Image Source: “Gutenberg Printing Press,” The History Guide (accessed December 14, 2011).

Schoffer and Fust

Peter Schoffer was an early German printer.  A manuscript copyist in 1451, Schoffer would go on to apprentice with Johannes Gutenberg himself.  Johann Fust, a money lender and lawyer, would also join under Gutenberg.  Schoffer and Fust would work together for several years in Gutenberg’s shop.  Schoffer came up with many innovations, from dating books to introducing the printer’s device and Greek characters in print, punchcutting and colored inks.  In fact, in 1457, Schoffer and Fust created the first book to have a complete date.

Source: Paul ArblasterTyndale’s Testamen (Brepois: Turnhout, 2002), 144-150.

Source: Antonius van der Linde and Laurens Coster, The Haarlem Legend of the Invention of Printing by Lourens Janszoon Coster, Critically Examined (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1871), 26-65.

Image Source: “Peter Schoeffer,” (accessed December 14, 2011).

Image Source: “Johann Fust,” (accessed December 14, 2011).


On August 8, 1876, Thomas Edison received U.S. patent 180,857 for “Autographic Printing.”  The invention was invented for duplicating things such as music, drawings, etc.  With a steel plate with about 200 fine points per inch, a style is pressed upon the plate in order to create an image.  Each stencil that is used can create roughly 1,000 to 1,500 images, so it was deemed very useful for its time.

Source: Howard Hutchinson, Mimeograph:Operation Maintenance and Repair (Blue Ridge Summit: Tab Books, 1979), 1-45.

Source: Lloyd S. Weigand, “The Mimeograph Duplicating System and Apparatus,” Journal of the Franklin Institute (1889): 381-3.

Image Source: Written Communication in a Grid-Down Environment,  (accessed September 17, 2011).

Wang Zhen’s Wood

In 1298, Wang Zhen, a governmental official of Jingde, China, re-invented a method of making movable wooden types.  By switching Bi Sheng’s clay moveable type to a wooden one, Wang Zhen was able to improve the speed at which the moveable type machine could effectively be used.  Wang Zhen also tinkered with the idea of using tin, which would later lead to the use of metal moveable types decades later.

Source:  John Man, The Gutenberg Revolution: The story of a Genius that Changed the World (London: Headline Book Publishing, 2002), 8-16.

Source: Lang YeChina: Five Thousand Years of History and Civilization (Hong Kong: City University of HK Press, 2007), 566-574.

Image Source: “Wang Zehn’s Typecase,” Jeremy Norman’s From Cave Paintings to the Internet: Chronological and Thematic Studies on the History of Information and Media (accessed December 14, 2011).

Martin Luther

Martin Luther was a German Priest who is noted for initiating the Protestant Reformation.  However, he also is famous for helping start kickstart the early success in Europe of the printing press.  After posting his 95 Theses, two of Luther’s close friends translated the 95 Theses from Latin to German, and then was spread thoughout all of Germany, and then soon Europe in 1518.

Source: Martin BrechtMartin Luther (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), 204-205.

Image Source: “Martin Luther,” (accessed September 2011).

First Papermill in the United States

In 1690, on the banks of the Monoshone Creek near Germantown, Pennsylvania, William Rittenhouse founded the first paper mill in the United States.  With the help of William Bradford, who became known for being the first printer in Pennsylvania, Rittenhouse opened up the mill for Bradord’s printing needs.  Known for the Rittenhouse mill waterwork in the corner of thier postal cards, the mill remained open for 10 years before Bradford had to close down the paper mill.

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Source: Charles F JenkinsThe Guide Book to Historic Germantown (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973), 148-167.