Paper was invented in ancient China and has been used for thousands of years as a medium for recording, communicating, and preserving information.
The invention of paper is credited to Cai Lun, a Chinese eunuch, in the Han Dynasty around 105 AD, although archaeological evidence suggests that paper was likely used before his time. This early paper was made from pounded and disintegrated hemp fibers, mulberry bark, fishnets, old rags, and rice straw. The process involved a few steps, including the formation of pulp, spreading the pulp onto a flat, porous surface, pressing out the water, and then allowing the thin layer of fibers to dry.
Origin of Paper
Invention in China
The paper was invented in ancient China around 105 AD, credited to Cai Lun. The early paper was made from pounded and disintegrated hemp fibers, mulberry bark, fishnets, old rags, and rice straw.
Spread of Papermaking
Asia and the Middle East
The process of papermaking spread from China to Korea by the 7th century and Japan by the 8th. By the 9th and 10th centuries, it had been established in Central Asia and the Middle East respectively.
The first paper mill in Europe was likely established in Spain in the 11th century. By the 13th century, papermaking had spread to Italy, and from there to France, Germany, and the rest of Europe.
Industrial Revolution and Papermaking
The Printing Press
The invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century increased the demand for paper.
The Paper Machine
The 19th century saw the invention of the paper machine by Louis-Nicolas Robert, which mechanized paper production. The Fourdrinier brothers in England commercialized this technology.
Modern Paper Production
Introduction of Wood Pulp
In the 19th and 20th centuries, wood became the main source of fiber for paper production due to the scarcity of rags. This led to the development of the chemical pulping process.
Recent times have seen an increase in interest in sustainable and environmentally friendly paper production methods, including recycling and the use of non-wood fibers.