WOA 50th ANNIVERSARY — An Industry Time Line
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.
1868—Web paper manufacturing first begins. Until this time, paper had been made in sheet form. With this new method, continuous rolls of paper are being produced and made available for web press production.
1886—Ottmar Mergenthaler’s Blower typesetting machine is released and put into commercial use. One dozen machines are installed at the New York Tribune, where it is used to compose the daily newspaper. By the summer of 1887, 160 machines have been built with 60 of them installed in the newspaper trade.
1907—Other presses may have preceded it, but the first instance appearing in a sales blurb is the Bigelow rotary offset press manufactured in Buffalo, NY. Designed for letterhead and similar work, it ran at speeds to 8,000 iph.
1911—The Harris Automatic Press Co., founded by Alfred E. Harris and Charles C. Harris, is delivering sheetfed and one- and two-color rotary presses for the letterpress industry. Web offset presses are soon on the horizon.
1914—The Walter Scott Co. comes out with what is said to be the first perfecting web offset press.
1931—The first web offset press in the United States is installed by John F. Webendorfer. The first Webendorfer in 1933 is built exclusively for printing theater programs, but is quickly adapted to other uses. Later, Webendorfer built large lithographic presses that could print two colors on both side of a 40˝ web with a 25˝ cutoff. One press even included a plate and impression cylinder for rapid electrotype changes to imprint magazine mastheads.