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History of Printing Timeline


APHA is developing a history of printing timeline and would like your help to improve it. In accord with our mission, it includes all related arts and crafts: calligraphy, typefounding, typography, papermaking, bookbinding, illustration, and publishing. It also notes digital publishing, plus relevant laws and labor events. There are no plans to add graphics or manage external links. Please review and let us know what we left out or should cut. The editor welcomes all comments and suggestions.


  1. “William Caxton, first Englishman to work as a printer (in Holland)” is not correct.

    In 1473 Caxton lived already for 20 years in Bruges in Flanders (now in Belgium) and there is no relation or link with Holland. The first book in English was printed in Bruges in Flanders in 1473 in collaboration with the Flemish printer Colard Mansion: Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye. Three years later in 1476 Caxton then set up a printshop in England.

    The Stanhope press was invented in 1803 not 1800 by Charles, Third Earl Stanhope.

  2. Paul Moxon, Website Editor 21 September, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Thank you for the clarification on Caxton. The entry is corrected. What is your source for the 1803 date regarding Stanhope? My source is Annuals of Printing, W. Turner Berry and H. Edmund Poole Blandford, 1966.

  3. Own research. The 1800 invention date was written down for the first time several decades later. The first Stanhope was at William Bulmer’s printshop and the oldest reference by him on his Stanhope press is 1803. Nothing was ever found from 1800, 1801 or 1802 on the Stanhope press in many archives where we have done research.

  4. I can help reading about the bookbinding history

  5. Paul Moxon, Website Editor 21 September, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Please do!

  6. 1984 – Apple personal computer introduced.

    Should read Apple Macintosh personal computer introduced. The Apple personal computer was introduced in 1976, but it wasn’t in any position to have an impact on publishing.

  7. Paul Moxon, Website Editor 21 September, 2015 at 11:50 am

    You are correct, sir. Entry revised.

  8. 711 – Moors invade Spain, introducing paper-making techniques from the east
    794 – first paper mill; Baghdad, Iraq (Abbasid dynasty).
    The oldest dated printed text known to us is from 868: the Diamond Sutra, a Chinese translation of a Buddhist text now preserved in the British Library.
    circa 1600 – Spain outlaws paper-making in their New World colonies
    932 – Chinese printers adapt Wood-block printing to mass produce classical books.
    1835 – Padre Martinez brings the first printing press to New Mexico.
    1861 – Confederates capture Mesilla (New Mexico Territory) and throw the local printing press into the Rio Grande

  9. Paul Moxon, Website Editor 23 September, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Happy to add more papermaking entries. The Diamond Sutra is already listed, but lacks this context. Not certain about adding the New Mexico items. Although throwing printing items in rivers is always intriguing.

  10. I didn’t see any mention of the TeX typesetting system, which has revolutionized the composition and publication of technical books and journals. If this is on topic (I believe it is), I will try to provide a (sub-)timeline for its development and adoption.

  11. Paul Moxon, Website Editor 25 September, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    A worthy addition. I see that there’s a wikipedia entry, but I welcome your take on it.

  12. Richard Saunders 7 October, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    The “contact Us” form does not work–the Captcha link is broken and not loading. Can’t make new suggestions.

  13. Paul Moxon, Website Editor 7 October, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    Thanks for letting us know we will correct this ASAP. Meanwhile, you can share your suggestions as a comment. I will email you as well.

  14. It would be interesting to note that the first movable type (China, 1041) was made from baked clay.
    Great timeline.

  15. Paul Moxon, Website Editor 14 January, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    Good observation. I will add this the first chance I get.

  16. Re… 1534: First printing press established at Cambridge, England

    The Letters Patent was issued in 1534, but the press itself wasn’t established until 50 years later.

    The University Press at Cambridge began operations in the grounds of Cambridge University in 1584, and has been operating continuously since then. Cambridge University Press lays claim to being both the oldest university press in the world, and the oldest printing & publishing house in the world.

    Regarding the 50-year gap: Henry VIII granted the Letters Patent for the press in 1534. The first University Printer (Thomas Thomas) was appointed in 1583, and set up the print shop that year. Cambridge University Press produced its first book in 1584, as mentioned. Several earlier attempts at establishing the press were torpedoed by strong opposition and repeated challenges from the Stationers’ Company of London, which thoroughly dominated printing in England at the time.

    The first Cambridge Bible was printed in 1591, and Cambridge Bibles are still being printed today.

    (Sources – The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume 4 (Barnard, J.); The Stationers’ Company to 1775; and A Brief History of the Press (Cambridge University))

  17. Is there any written or known history on the influence of the printing press and standardizing the look/shape of the symbols used in music notation and the criteria used?

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