Many are well aware that Johann Gutenberg invented printing. On the other
hand, do we know who invented paper ? Ts'ai Lun's name has never gained as much
popularity as Gutenberg's. Researchers have discovered that the former invented
paper about the year 105 AD. However, many major encyclopaedias and standard
history textbooks seldom mention him. Not a great deal is known about Ts'ai
According to certain Chinese records and the official history of
the Han Dynasty, he was an employee of the imperial court about 1800 years ago.
Around the year 105 AD, he presented Emperor ho Ti with samples of paper. The
emperor was so pleased with his invention that he promoted and bestowed on him
an aristocratic title. However, he became involved in a political problem which
soon led to his downfall. Upon being disgraced, he committed suicide. The
Chinese have always credited Ts'ai Lun with the invention of paper, and his name
is well known in China. Other aspects of his biography are hardly known, if not
vague. However, his contribution to society is too important to ignore.
paper is so common that we take it for granted, and it is hard to imagine what
the world would be like without it. In China, before Ts'ai Lun's invention, most
books were made of bamboo. Obviously, such books were extremely heavy and
clumsy. Some books were written on silk, but that was too expensive for general
use. In the West, before paper was introduced, most books were written on
parchment or vellum which was made of specially-processed sheepskin or calfskin.
The use of paper became widespread in China during the second century, and
within the next few centuries, the Chinese were
exporting paper to other parts of Asia. For a long time, they kept
the technique of paper-making a secret. However, they were unable to keep it for
too long. In 751 AD, some Chinese papermakers were captured by the Arabs, and
not long afterwards, paper was manufactured in certain parts of the Arab world.
The art of papermaking gradually spread to the rest of the area. I was only in
the 12th century that the Europeans learnt the art from the Arabs. The use of
paper gradually spread, and after Gutenberg invented modern printing, paper
replaced parchment as the main writing material in the West.
Due to the
existence of paper, books and other written materials can be produced so cheaply
today and in such considerable amounts. The Chinese civilization advanced
rapidly because of paper. However, the invention of printing by Gutenberg
improved the use of paper. Gutenberg was born about the year 1400 in the city of
Mainz, Germany. He improve the inefficient style of printing so that books could
be produced in masses with speed and accuracy. This contribution to he art of
printing was made in the middle of the century.
Gutenberg did not gain much fame or fortune through his invention
during his time. His best known work is the Gutenberg Bible. It was printed at
Mainz, around 1454. Although it was clearly printed with the equipment he had
invented, his name did not appear on the Bible. This was the case for many of
his books. In his lifetime, he did not appear to have been a good businessman
Both Ts'ai Lun and Gutenberg died leaving a tremendous impact on Man's
progress. Their contributions during their era helped cultivate a better
civilization for the Chinese and the Europeans respectively.