11th Century – Movable type was developed in China by the year 1048 and the metal variety in Korea by 1403. However, it was impractical for the ideographs both used (as many as 400,000 characters). Rubbing off wood blocks and stone, practiced since the 7th century, was the preferred technology of a versatile book trade.
1150 – Technology transfer – The Arabs took paper from Iraq and Egypt to North Africa and Muslim Spain.
13th Century – Italy gets paper – Finally Europe had a cheap alternative to vellum and parchment. (It took the skins of 80 lambs to create a 200-page parchment manuscript.)
1300s – Block printing arrived in Europe, perhaps brought by merchants and bureaucrats of the expanding Mongol Empire. And paper was available for use.
1455 – Johann Gutenberg invented an efficient press in Germany and used movable type to publish Bibles, transforming Europe.
1591 – Those rotten journalists – A Chinese border official complained of irresponsible “news-bureau entrepreneurs” who give no consideration to “matters of [national] emergency”.
1605 – Newspapers – The first weekly appeared in Antwerp; it would be 1650 before the first daily was published, in Leipzig.
1776 – Thomas Paine – His printed pamphlet Common Sense would inspire the Declaration of Independence; his American Crisis rallied Washington’s troops at Valley Forge.
1811 – Industrial Revolution – The steam engine began to power the press; the rotary press (invented in 1846) allowed runs of 20,000 sheets an hour.
1851 – The New York Times, then the New York Daily Times, was founded. Adolph S. Ochs bought the paper in 1896. His descendants still run the Gray Lady.
1890s – The press barons – Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst engaged in a circulation war filled with sensational headlines and “yellow journalism.” Hearst’s papers helped foment the Spanish-American War.
1931 – Rupert Murdoch was born in Australia. Beginning in the late 1960s, he became the founder of the first truly global media empire, with properties ranging from newspapers to a movie studio to cable and broadcast television networks.
1968 – Toward e-paper – Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo, was born in Taiwan. Though Yahoo has ventured into print magazines, its greatest asset is the 385 million page views its sites provide every day.