Pixel This -- Graphic Communications History

A Brief History of Graphic Communication

(Some Dates May Be Approximate)

35,000 BC
Cave paintings from Paleolithic to Neolithic periods

20,000 BC
Carved or scratched signs and simple figures called Petroglyphs on cliff walls at Newspaper Rock, Utah

10,000 BC
Clay tokens in simple shapes developed as first practical system for record keeping in Mesopotamia

5000 BC
Sumerians invent first written language called Cuneiform, with wedge shaped characters used to record commerce

3000 BC
Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, meaning "sacred writing" developed, which were alphabetic, syllabic and determinative

1880 BC
Code of Hammurabi cuneiform carvings on a tall polished stone stele, recording law and punishment

1700 BC
Phaistos Disc, a terra-cotta disc found in Crete bears 31 groups of characters

1200 BC
Phoenicians develop written language based on the principle that one sign represents one sound

1000 BC
Greeks adopt the Phoenician alphabet but change five consonants to vowels A,E,I,O,U, creating a true phonetic alphabet

500 BC
Roman alphabet, adopted from the Greeks, comprised of 23 letters (ABCDEFGHIKLMNOPQRSTVXYZ) and simplified letter names to a, b, c

200 BC
Eumenes, king of Pergamus, uses parchment as a substrate

197 BC
Rosetta Stone with translations in two languages and three scripts: hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek inscriptions

10 BC
Chinese philosopher Wang Ch'ung uses bamboo as a substrate

105 AD
In China, Ts'ai Lun, a high official, reported his invention of paper making to Emperor Ho, using tree bark, cloth and hemp paper

300 AD
The art of Chinese Calligraphy was unified into the "small seal" style with lines thick and even, more abstract and flowing

400 AD
Wei Tang invents ink using lampblack in China

400 AD
Dark Ages begin in Europe, but monks illuminate hand-copied manuscripts in scriptoria
530 AD
Uncial letter forms developed which were a rounder from of capital letters

600 AD
Half-uncials style developed which resemble modern day lower case letters.

751 AD
Paper making technology from the Chinese travels to the West via the Silk Route

800 AD
Emperor Charlemagne forces adoption of single official writing style called Carolingian minuscules which combined small characters with Roman capitals

1023 AD
Chinese artisan Pi Sheng makes individual, moveable characters out of clay which were affixed to a form through heated wax

1397 AD
Bronze moveable type was developed in Korea and soon after produced the first text printed from type

1450 AD
Johann Gutenberg invents moveable type matrices in black letter style consisting of 300 letters, ligatures, abbreviations and the printing press, and prints 42-line Bible

1450-1500 AD
Incunabula, meaning 'swaddling clothes', the period of infancy of the new printing technology

1470 AD
Nicholas Jenson produces first Roman typeface, more reminiscent of the classic Roman letters from the column of Trajan

1476 AD
William Caxton produces first book in England in English language

1500 AD
Aldus Manutius of Venice creates the Aldine Press and commissions Griffo to design the first italic style typeface

1525 AD
Trade newsletters develop as an early form of newspapers

1550 AD
Letterpresses widely used for printing

1639 AD
Stephen Daye, a locksmith from England, emigrates to Cambridge, Mass and founds the first printing establishment in America

1662 AD
Census shows 60 printer publishers working in London

1685 AD
William Bradford begins publishing in Philadelphia, PA

1704 AD
First American news weekly 'The Boston News-Letter' published by John Campbell in Boston, Mass

1728 AD
Benjamin Franklin begins publishing the 'Pennsylvania Gazette', importing type from England

1734 AD
William Caslon sets up his own foundry and strongly influences English printing

1750 AD
John Baskerville creates Baskerville typeface and vellum

1764 AD
Pierre-Simon Fournier publishes his 'Manuel Typographique' introducing the point system, which is still in use today

1788 AD
Giambatista Bodoni designs the first modern roman typeface Bodoni, with thin straight serifs contrasting with bold verticals

1796 AD
Aloys Senefelder of Germany invents the basic lithographic process using water absorbant stone, grease, water and ink

1806 AD
The Fourdrinier brothers perfect a machine to make paper from ground-wood pulp in a continuous 48" wide roll

1822 AD
Dr. William Church invents the first hot-type composing machine

1839 AD
Daguerreotype photography, a system of developing images on metal plates coated with silver oxide, developed by Louis Jacques Daguerre in France

1875 AD
Karl Klietsch develops rotogravure printing, using the intaglio process with an etched copper plate

1884 AD
George Eastman invents roll film and coated photographic paper

1886 AD
Line-casting keyboard typesetting machine invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler, coined the 'line-o-type' by Whitelaw Reid, editor of the New York Tribune

1888 AD
William Morris in England establishes craft revival of printing standards

1905 AD
Ira Rubel develops offset lithography using a rubber blanket to transfer the image from zinc plate to paper

1906 AD
Ludlow line caster invented for headline size type

1914 AD
Frederic W. Goudy, a prolific typeface designer, creates his best-known face, Centaur

1928 AD
'Die Neue Typographic', by Jan Tshicbold, introduces the Sans Serif type termed 'Grotesque' by traditional typographers

1950 AD
First CTR (cathode ray tube) typesetter

1960 AD
Publishing makes transition from hot type to cold type

1962 AD
Wes Clark assembles first stand-alone computer

1963 AD
First application of a mouse used as a pointing device

1964 AD
First word processor -- the IBM Magnetic Tape Selectric Typewriter

1970 AD
Scanner reproduction introduced

1971 AD
Ed Rondthaler, Herb Lubalin and Aaron Burns found ITC, the International Typeface Corporation

1977 AD
Laser typesetter introduced

1984 AD
Macintosh graphical user interface computer system and laserwriter with Canon engine, Adobe Postscript language, Aldus PageMaker software