The History of Printers

A printer, laptop, and figurine on a brown wooden table

Over the decades, printers have been incorporated into our lives in important ways. We utilize them for printing documents and images at work, at school, and at home. Printers truly are a staple of the 21st Century.

The world may have gone digital in every fathomable aspect, but that doesn’t mean that print has become—or will ever be—a thing of the past. In fact, printers can be perceived as the connecting element between virtual and print.

Let’s take a look back at the history of printers in order to better understand how we’ve gotten to where we are today.

Ancient Chinese Block Printing & Johannes Gutenberg’s Printing Press

In our modern world, printers have constantly been changing and evolving, become more efficient and technologically advanced with each new model. While our generation has been familiar with multifunctional printers, laser printers, Inkjet printers, and 3D printers, these essential electronic devices stem from a vast history stemming all the way back to the 15th Century.

Johannes Gutenberg is often credited as the inventor of the printing press. However, approximately 600 years before his revolutionary contribution towards technology, Chinese monks innovated a brilliant printing technique called block printing. With this ancient printing method, they coated wooden blocks with ink and pressed them to sheets of paper. Later on, block printing was also adapted in Korea and Japan.

Fast forward a couple of centuries and travel across the world into Europe. Johannes Gutenberg, a German goldsmith, has taken the original printing press method designed by the Chinese and elevated it to new heights.

Much like his genius predecessors, he wanted to find ways to make the printing process faster and more efficient. In order to do so, he broke down the conventional wooden blocks to their basic components, which were the lower case letters, upper case letters, and punctuation marks among other characters. He crafted movable blocks of letters and symbols from various types of metal, such as lead, tin, and antimony. In addition to these essential attributes, he also invented his own ink, composed of soot and linseed oil. This eventually proved to be more effective and efficient than its original water-based form.

While Gutenberg’s revolutionary invention was inspired by the pioneering efforts of his antecedents in Asia, there was one particular development in the technology that truly made it a new creation on its own. His version of the printing press was designed to transfer ink from a movable mechanism to paper. In his invention, the brilliant goldsmith incorporated screw contraptions similar to those in wine presses and linen presses. Consequently, he became the inventor of the first printing press that produced an assembly line-style process. Doing so was a much more efficient and ergonomic process versus pressing paper to ink by hand.

This marked the first instance in history wherein books could finally be mass produced to reach people far and wide. This phenomenon demonstrates how one invention inspires development for another in order to provide more convenience and technological advancement for the world.

Images being printed

Ottmar Mergenthaler’s Linotype Invention

Following the invention of Johannes Gutenberg’s press, another German inventor gave the printer a revolutionary revamp in the 19th Century. Ottmar Mergenthaler made history with the linotype machine, which has been regarded as the most significant advancement in the field of printing technology.

The linotype machine works by entering text on a keyboard containing 90 characters. The device assembles letter form molds in a straight line. Afterwards, the assembled line is cast as a single piece, which is referred to as a “slug”.

However, we all know that the evolution of the printer did not stop here. Samuel Simon, an English inventor was next in line to upgrade this technological wonder. In the year 1907, Samuel Simon designed and patented the process of using silk fabric as a printing screen—a process that came to be known as screen printing. This technique was derived from the ancient art of stenciling that was pioneered by The Greeks and Egyptians circa 2500 B.C.

In 1928, the printer underwent another metamorphosis, courtesy of Walter W. Morey of New Jersey. He devised the teletypesetter, which utilizes coded paper tape. With the help of Frank E. Gannett, the new type of printer was successfully developed.

Printers Of the 21st Century

Now here we are in the 21st Century with a wide array of printers at hand. From inkjet printers to laser printers, and monochrome laser printers to LED printers or 3D printers, this essential device has come a long way over the millennia.

Today, most household printers are inkjet. They are inexpensive, compact, and convenient, making them a staple in every home. In contrast, offices require more frequent and larger volumes of printing on a daily basis.

Aside from printing, offices rely on document photocopying and scanning to keep the workflow going as well. This is why it is ideal to have multifunction printers in the workplace. Utilizing multiple devices can be an absolute hassle which consumes a lot of time and significantly slows down the rate of productivity. Elevate the levels of convenience while reducing stress levels with multifunction printers that have all the functions you need in one place.

A stack of white paper

Managed Print Services

Aside from printers evolving in design, structure, and function, the industry has innovated new ways in which printing tasks can be handled.

There are times when there is too much work to be handled internally within your company. When having a fleet of multifunction printers isn’t enough to accommodate all your business’ document management needs, it is advisable to recruit the help of companies that specialize in external managed printing services. Managed print services are offered by an external provider that has the ability to render a company’s document output at an optimal level.

One of the leading providers of managed print services in Canada and the United States is and Integr8. By streamlining all your business printing into one, your workflow’s productivity will improve by tenfold. Our highly skilled team of managed printing specialists will evaluate your business and devise a customized and efficient solution for your company’s specific needs. Aside from rendering excellent services, Integr8 significantly decreases costs as well.

To stay ahead of the competition, businesses have to take serious measures in order to enhance the productivity of internal processes as much as possible. One of the main advantages of managed print services is integrated document control. This feature allows you to gain complete control over who you grant access to your documents. Additionally, you will have the ability to define what level of access they will receive and track and document changes and revisions quickly and conveniently. Moreover, Integr8 helps you eliminate unnecessary administrative tasks and inefficiencies in order to upgrade your business’ workflow and capitalize on amazing productivity enhancements.

Find Your MPS Provider with

It is our main mission and purpose to provide only the best business practices available in the field of managed print services. We guarantee an optimized level of workflow efficiency and a drastic decline in unnecessary tasks and stress by utilizing a balanced deployment approach with open technologies and software. By streamlining business processes, we effectively free up human resources while rescuing costs, downtime, and carbon footprint all at the same time.

In order to achieve this feat, we bring together a team of people with extraordinary vision and expertise which is required to exceed our clients’ expectations. Our team’s strong sense of belonging is built upon our basic values of respect, integrity, and family.

It is our platform’s priority to find the most suitable solution for all our clients’ managed print services needs. Give us a call today to learn more about how you can take your business to the next level.

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