Chronography of Books Technology, production (also here alphabets, pens, paper, typewriters, public libraries

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8 May 2021, Spencer Silver, co-inventor of the Post It note (with Arthur Fry), died (born 6 February 1941).

16 March 1993, A patent was granted for �repositionable pressure-sensitive adhesive sheet material�, or Post-It Notes.

1968, The weak adhesive used on Post-It notes was first made by Spencer Silver at 3M Laboratories. Oit was heat resistant and left no residue, but was far too weak to have any practical use. In 1974 a fellow chemist, Arthur Fry, attended one of Silver�s seminars, but also failed to see a use fot the new weak adhesive, until later on in church Fry was struggling to keep his paper bookmarks from falling out of his hymnbook. In the late 1970s 3M targeted offices with free samples, using yellow paper borrowed from another laboratoiry, and in 1979 the Post It note (first sold from 1977) became a commercial success.

19 September 1968, Death of Chester Carlson, US inventor of the Xerox photocopier.

10 June 1943. The ball point pen was patented by its inventor, a Hungarian called Laszlo Biro. He had devised a prototype pen that would not blot in 1938, but fled to Paris and then Argentina in 1940, to escape the Nazis. In 1944 the RAF began using the pens as they were not affected by low air pressure in aircraft.

30 May 1939, Tim Waterstone, bookseller, was born.

3 March 1938, Mark Barty-King, book publisher, was born (died 25 March 2006)

1924, The spiral bound notebook was first produced.

12 January 1897, Sir Isaac Pitman, who invented phonetic shorthand in 1837, died in Somerset aged 84.

30 October 1888, The first patent for a ball point pen was issued to the American, John H Loud.

7 June 1886, Richard Hoe, inventor of an improved printing press, died (born 12 September 1812).



17 February 1890, Christopher Sholes, American inventor of the typewriter, died in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

24 January 1888, Jacob L Wortmann patented the typewriter ribbon

1873, Remington began producing typewriters. In 1878 he added a SHIFT key, so lower case and capital letters could be typed.

1843, The typewriter was invented by Thurber.

14 February 1819. American inventor Christopher Latham Stokes, who invented an early typewriter, was born near Mooresburg, Pennsylvania.


5 January 1873, Joseph Gillott, English pen maker, died (born 11 October 1799).

6 January 1852, Louis Braille, who invented the raised-dot system of writing used by the blind, died.

1842, Sir William Herschel, astronomer, patented the blueprinting process, or cyanotyping. A sheet of paper was coated in chemical, dyed to a bronze colour, then left in contact with the drawing to be copied under glasss in the sunlight. The paper turned blue with a white image of the drawing lines. The process was cheap, the prints lomg-lasting, and could be done by anybody.


Public libraries

26 December 1931, Melvil Dewey, inventor of a classification system for library books, died.

10 December 1851, Melvil Dewey, US librarian who devised a system of library cataloguing, was born in Adams Centre, New York State.

27 May 1842, The first public library was opened, in Frederick Street, Salford, Manchester.

8 November 1731, In Philadelphia, USA, Benjamin Franklin opned the first library in the American Colonies.

1709, Between 1558 and 1709 some 165 �parish libraries� had been set up in England. They mostly contained ecclestical books though later ones increasingly hosted secular works also. They were not universally accessible to all, but had varied rules on who was entitled to use them. Some were for the use of the clergy only; others allowed non-clergy to visit, but only if they were of sufficient social standing. Some were located in churches (often on upper floors, accessible only by steep narrow spiral stairs), where all could read the volumes; however the volumes were chained to the shelves to prevent theft, making reading of them uncomfortable. The earliest libraries contained many works in Latin, but gradually English works became more common.


15 November 1837. Isaac Pitman�s stenographic shorthand, the first shorthand system, was published, price 4d.

1832, Book jackets, or dust wrappers, were first used on books in England. They came into general use in te 1890s.

27 September 1822, French linguist Jean Francois Champollion decipehered the Rosetts Stone, paving the way for translating Egyptian hieroglyphics.

4 January 1813, Isaac Pitman, who invented phonetic shorthand, was born in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

12 September 1812, Richard Hoe, inventor of an improved printing press, was born (died 7 June 1886).

4 January 1809, Louis Braille, French benefactor of the blind, was born in Coupvray, near Paris.

7 October 1806. Ralph Wedgewood of London patented carbon paper. In the 1820s Wedgwood had a successful business selling his invention at 4 Rathbone Place, near Oxford Street, London.

1801, A machine for making a continuous roll of paper was patented by Francois Didot; his employee, Louis Robert, had produced the machine in 1799.

1799, The Rosetta Stone was discovered in Egypt.

11 October 1799, Joseph Gillott, English pan maker, was born (died 5 January 1873).

8 January 1775, John Baskerville, printer, died (born in Wolverley, Worcestershire 28 January 1706)

6 November 1771, Alois Senefelder, German pioneer of lithography, was born in Munich (died 1834 in Munich)

1737, Pierre Simon Fournier introduced the point system for measuring type font sizes.

28 January 1706, John Baskerville, printer, was born in Wolverley, Worcestershire (died 8 January 1775).

1660, A pencil factory was opened in Nuremberg, by Freidrich Stadtler.


The Gutenberg printing revolution

In the Islamic world, book printing did not take off until the 1800s.

1555, The printing press reached Moscow.

1500, Some 30 to 35 thousand different editions of printed books were now available across Europe. This equated to some 15 to 20 million individual copies of books. In the following century some 150,000 further editions appeared.

1500, Wynken de Worde set up a printing press in Fleet Street, London. Fleet Street then became a centre of printing for nearly 500 years.

1495, John Tate set up England�s first paper mill, at Hertford. Spain and Italy had such mills from the 13th century.

1485, As the printing revolution spread, the Chiurch began to consider censorship of books. This year the Archbishop-Elector of Mainz asked the city council of Frankfurt am Main to examine the books on sale at the Lenten fair, to check for any �dangerous publications�. In 1486 Europe�s foirst censorship office was set up in Frankfurt

1473, The printing press reached Cetinje )Montenegro)..

1476, The printing press reached Westminster.

1474, The printing press reached Cracow.

1473, The printing press reached Buda.

1470, The printing press reached Paris.

1468, The printing press reached Pilzno (Bohemia).

3 February 1468, Johannes Gutenberg (born ca. 1395), German inventor of printing from moveable metal type, died.

1467, The printing press reached Rome

1466, The printing press reached Basle.

1454, Moveable type was first used at Mainz.

30 September 1442, Johannes Gutenberg�s Bible became the first book to be printed using moveable metal type.


1435, Moveable type was first used at Haarlem.

1417, Moveable type was first used at Antwerp.

1381, Moveable type was first used in Europe, at Limoges.

1322, Ma Cheng�te of China was using around 100,000 movable characters. However the large number of characters required for Chinese printing held back the mass production of books.

1300, Wooden moveable type-blocks were in use in China. Developed by Wang Chen, there were some 7,000 blocks stored on a revolving table around 7 feet in diameter.

1320, Paper making began at Mainz, and soon thereafter also started at Cologne, Nuremberg, Ratisbon and Augsburg.

1293, Paper making began at Fabriano, in the Italian province of Ancona.

1289, Block printing began for the first time in Europe, at Ravenna.

1276, Paper making at a paper mill began in Europe, at Montefano, Italy. Europeans belived that the technology was Islamic, and had no idea that it actually originated in China.

1189, A paper mill opened at Herault, France, the first such mill in Christian Europe. Earlier paper mills existed in Moslem Spain. However paper remained very rare with vellum parchment as virtually the only material available to write upon. The innovation of paper broke the monastic monopoly on manuscripts and other written communoications.

1145, European rulers were reluctant to use paper. This year it was banned by Roger II of Sicily for use in official documents. Frederick II of Germany issued a similar ban in 1221.

1144, Papermaking began in Xativah (now Sab Felipe), a small town near Valencia, Spain. First papermaking in Europe.

1045, In China, Pi Sheng developed ceramic type-blocks.

11 May 868, The world�s first printed book, the Diamond Sutra, was published in China. It was found in 1900.

793, The Arabs established a paper mill at Baghdad, using captured Chinese workmen to operate it. A problem was the lack of suitable tree bark, leading to the production of inferior paper using rags for fibres.

751, Arabs in Samarkand learned the secret of paper production from Chinese prisoners of war, particularly those captured at the Battle of Talas this year.. The technology then reached the West.

700, Block printing began in China. It was in use in Korea by 751. By 770 over one million Buddhist darani (sayings) had been printed in Japan. With these wooden blocks, which first had to be intricately carved, printers could produce some 2,000 double-sided pages every day, and the blocks were useful for around 15,000 prints, and a further 10,000 after retooling.

360, Scrolls began to be replaced by books.

105 CE, Paper first developed, in China, by a Han Court official.

250 BCE, Parchment was produced, at Pergamum.

1400 BCE, First alphabets in use, in the Middle East.


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