Caves Walls, Stone Tablets, & Papyrus (02:11)
Predecessors to paper include cave painting, stone carving, and writing upon various other surfaces. "Paper" is derived from "papyrus," a plant that Ancient Egyptians dried and pressed into sheets. Rarely does a day go by when Western humans don't use paper.
Advent of Paper in China (01:47)
In ancient China, bone, bamboo, and silk were utilized for record-keeping. In 105 CE, Ts'ai Lun, a royal official, conceived of forming sheets of paper from macerated bark. Legend has it he went to extreme measures to convince his skeptics to use his invention.
Guarding & Spreading the Secret of Paper Technology (01:36)
Though paper traveled on the Silk Road, the secret behind the technology remained a secret for centuries. After the Battle of Talas in 751 CE, Arabs extracted the recipe for paper from Chinese prisoners. Arabs withheld the secret from Europe.
Early European Parchment & "Rag Paper" (01:38)
Before paper, Europeans used expensive animal parchment. The process was complicated and bloody. Eventually, Europeans made paper from recycled cotton and linen, made abundant by the Black Death.
European Paper Advances & Rise in Literacy (01:27)
In the mid-twelfth century, the secret of paper-making arrived in Europe with Christian Crusaders. The growth of literacy put paper in constant shortage. Rene de Reaumur observed wasps to discover how to make paper from wood.
How to Make Paper (01:01)
Experts demonstrate how to make paper using rag pulp and a mesh frame.
Invention of Ink (01:08)
Prehistoric humans used weapons as drawing tools. Many ancient cultures independently developed ink, but a Chinese philosopher is credited with inventing Chinese ink in 2697 BCE, using soot, lamp oil, and gelatin.
Recipe for Homemade Ink (00:40)
Experts produce ink by collecting soot from a lighted candle and mixing it with animal fat.
Feather Pens & Fountain Pens (02:42)
Feathers served as early writing utensils, holding ink in their central reservoir through capillary action. With the order of an Egyptian ruler to invent a better pen, fountain pens followed feather pens.
Ballpoint Pens: Sold Out the First Day (00:55)
Gimbels department store in New York sold 10,000 ballpoint pens on the day they were released in 1945.
Advent of Ballpoint Pen (02:20)
In 1888, John Loud patented a ballpoint pen to. Hungary's László and György Bíró improved Loud's invention. A diagram of a ballpoint pen illustrates how the ink and ball work against paper. Bic sells 14 million units per day of one version of its ballpoint pen.
Making Paper Suitable for Ink (01:08)
Fillers like starch, clay, and resin help decrease paper's absorbency. A diagram shows how ink, paper, and filler interact at the molecular level.
Paper Conservation (01:46)
Increased consumption of paper has negative ecological effects. One effort to conserve trees involves turning fibrous elephant dung into paper.
Paperless Paper & E-Paper (01:59)
The idea of "paperless paper" came with the advent of personal computers. Reading from screens, however, was uncomfortable, and computer printing increased the use of paper. The invention of e-paper, used in e-readers, makes for a more readable screen.
Are We Headed for a Paperless World? (00:36)
Questions arise about the future of ink and paper, which took centuries to develop but are now more frequently made obsolete by the digital world.
Credits: Paper: Quirky Science (00:45)
Credits: Paper: Quirky Science
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