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WOA 50th ANNIVERSARY -- An Industry Time Line

May 2002
Here are some milestones that occurred in the history of printing and in the web offset process, in particular.


1434—Johann Gutenberg settles in Strassburg, Germany, and, by 1438, forms a business partnership. In 1450, he is able to pay the first installment on a loan from his partner, Johann Fust (Furst). A second installment is paid to Fust two years later. In 1457, Gutenberg goes broke as a result of a lawsuit and Fust takes over his equipment.

1439—Around this time, Gutenberg is working on the development of a two-part, fixed-metal type mold capable of producing type characters (movable type) of various widths and of a uniform type height. These molds replace the inadequate wood and clay molds used earlier.

1444—In recent times, the earliest fragment of printing from moveable type are discovered in Mainz, Germany, having been buried for centuries in the binding of an old book. Because of its crude printing, authorities conclude that "The World of Judgment" probably dates from the period when Gutenberg was concluding his experiments in Strassburg.

1455—A two-volume Latin Bible is produced. The bible is referred to as the Gutenberg Bible. There are 48 known copies of the bible today. Eleven of the surviving bibles were printed on vellum. Before Gutenberg, there were approximately 30,000 books on the entire continent of Europe. Most were handmade bibles or religious commentaries. By 1500, there were more than nine million books on various subjects.

1457—Johann Fust (Furst) and his nephew, Peter Schöffer, produce the famous "Psalter" in Germany. This was the first book printed to contain the names of the printers. It was also the first truly important work that includes color.

1704—The Boston News Letter, the first continuous (webfed) newsletter published in colonial America, begins and is printed by Bartholomew Greene and published by John Campbell.

1776—Experiments with a new method of printing, known as lithography, were beginning. Alois (Aloys) Senefelder, a Bavarian actor and dramatist, was eventually given credit for this process, in which he etched an image on limestone (using nitric acid) after drawing a design on the stone with an oily ink. The non-image area of the stone was treated with gum arabic.

1865—The first successful self-feeding or web printing press is developed by William Bullock of Philadelphia. The continuous roll of paper is printed on both sides of the sheet. This perfecting method used stereotype plates. Bullock dies in 1868 as a result of an injury caused when his clothes are caught in the running press.
 

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