The History Of Books...

...A Timeline

Cave drawings made by humans over 30,000 years ago in Altamira, Spain.

35,000 BC - The earliest known human cave paintings, their origins in Spain. Cave walls formed the first medium for art and official record; using insects, blood and bone to create the necessary colours, humans recorded events such as hunting triumphs, births, deaths and religious festivals.

3,000 BC - The clay tablets of Mesopotamia and the papyrus scrolls of Egypt become the world's earliest known books.

1,300 BC - The Chinese begin using books made of wood and bamboo strips to record everything from religious festivals and battle histories to poetry and food recipes.

100 BC - The ancient library of Alexandria opens. Books flourish in the land of Egypt.

8BC - The earliest use of paper as a writing medium in China.

1040 - The world's first movable type printing technology is developed by China.

1450 - Johannes Gutenberg improves movable types printing.

1456 - The bible becomes the first ever book printed using a printing press.

1605 - The world's first newspaper debuts in Germany, entitled the 'Relation'.

1731 - The world's first magazine debuts in London. Entitled 'The Gentleman's Magazine', it is extremely popular with upper class men.

1790 - The camera is invented by Thomas Wedgewood.

1796 - Lithography is invented, enabling high quality images to be printed. It is, however, an expensive process.

1843 - The steam powered rotary printing press is invented; reducing costs, it brings books to the masses.

1847 - The beginning of photojournalism. An unknown photographer takes a picture during the Mexican-American war, recording events for all to see.

1886 - The linotype machine is invented. This revolutionises typesetting and reduces labour.

1892 - The four colour rotary press is invented.

1899 - National Geographic begins to publish.

1904 - Offset lithography becomes common.

1922 - Readers' Digest debuts.  

1923 - Time magazine arrives.

1925-1967 - Magazine 'space' explodes.

1982 - TCP/IP protocol is standardised and the concept of the internet takes hold.

1983 - The era of desktop publishing begins.

1985 - Aldus PageMaker software and Apple LaserWriter printer are introduced.

1990 - Most newspaper now use digital production and layout techniques.

1993 - IBM invents the world's first Smartphone. They name it 'Simon'.

1995 - Amazon goes online as a bookstore selling physical books to the masses. Book sales rise.

1996 - Jacobsen and Comiskey patent E-ink technology (eBooks/eReader technology).

1996 - Traditional newspapers begin developing online versions for the internet.

1998 - Google is founded. This improves information retrieval on the internet.

1999 - Blogger is founded and self-publishing on the web takes off.

2004 - The beginning of Facebook.

2005 - YouTube goes online.

2005-2006 - News and information blogs rise in popularity and number.

2007 - Amazon releases Kindle. Soon E-Ink (eBook) readers gain traction.

2007 - Apple launches iPhone. Mobile phones become an essential medium for web/information consumption.

2008 - Apple launches 'App' store.

2010 - Apple announces iPad, the first tablet computer.

2010-2011 - Tablets continue to surge in popularity, increasing the sale of eBooks worldwide.

2011 - Amazon reports eBook sales surpassing printed books for the first time.

2012-2015 - Printed book sales are down to that of eBooks. However, on average, people are reading more than ever before, with book sales over 20% higher compared to that of 2010!


Hagen R and Hagen M (1999) Egypt Cologne: Taschen

Mitchenson J (2006) The Book of General Ignorance Chatham: Faber and Faber

The History of Publishing (2013) GalleyCat [Online] Available at: Accessed [January 2015]

The Printing Press (2014) [Online] Available at: Accessed [January 2015]

Cave of Altamira, Northern Spain (2012) UNESCO [Online] Available at:  Accessed [January 2015]

Ebooks (2014) NewRepublic [Online] Available at: Accessed [January 2015]