Publishing Timeline

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Here are key moments in the history and evolution of publishing.

The world's oldest known printed book, The Diamond Sutra, a seven-page scroll printed with wood blocks on paper, is produced in China.
11th century
The Chinese and Koreans continue to experiment with movable type, using clay, wood, bronze and iron. The complexity of Chinese and Korean symbols creates a major stumbling block to the process.
German Johann Gutenberg invents movable type by developing foundry-cast metal characters and a wooden printing press.
Gutenberg prints his first book, a Latin Bible.
Englishman William Caxton produces the first book printed in English, The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye.
Pope Paul IV issues the Index of Forbidden Books, which lists books the Roman Catholic Church considers dangerous to faith and morals.
Stephen Day prints Freeman's Oath and An Almanack in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the first books published in the American colonies.
Erbauliche Monaths-Unterredungen (Edifying Monthly Discussions), considered the world's first magazine, is published in Germany.
America's first newspaper, Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, is printed in Boston, Massachusetts, and subsequently suspended for operating without a royal license.
The Gentleman's Magazine, considered the first modern magazine, is published in England. The periodical is intended for entertainment and includes essays, stories, poems and political commentary.
Benjamin Franklin plans to publish America's first magazine, General Magazine, but is beaten to the punch when American Magazine comes out three days earlier.
Pierre Fournier of France develops the point system to measure type sizes. His system is further refined by Francois Didot, establishing consistency in type measure throughout the world.
Encyclopaedia Brittanica, the first English-language encyclopedia, is published in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The Pennsylvania Evening Post becomes America's first daily newspaper.
German Alois Senefelder develops lithography, a method of image transfer that produces high-quality printed images.
c. 1800
The Third Earl of Stanhope manufactures an all-metal printing press.
In London, Friedrich Koenigh uses steam power to operate a printing press. His system involves rolling a cylinder over paper that lies on top of inked type. Koenigh's method signals the end of the flat-hand press.
American-born William Church invents the first mechanical typesetting device.
Noah Webster, often referred to as the “father of his country's language,” publishes the American Dictionary of the English Language in an attempt to encourage American independence in both written and spoken English.
Encyclopaedia Americana, America's first encyclopedia, is published in Philadelphia.
Illustrated London News uses woodcuts and engravings for the first time, prompting the growth of illustrated journals throughout the second half of the century.
c. 1845
Paperbacks are introduced to the United States as newspaper supplements and soon appear as small-sized reprints of existing books.
Richard Hoe patents the first rotary press, which allows publishers to increase circulation exponentially.
Selling for a penny a copy, the New York Times debuts.
The Chicago Times publicizes its motto: “It is a newspaper's duty to print the news and raise hell.”
The Copyright Act of 1891 prohibits the reprinting of English titles in paperback form, making paperbacks virtually nonexistent.
William Morris establishes the Kelmscott Press to improve the quality of books produced in England. His books are known for their high quality illustrations and typography.
In its first issue, American magazine The Bookman includes a list of “Books in Demand,” which predates the bestseller list, later developed by Frank Mott in his book, Golden Multitudes.
McClure's Magazine prints “Tweed Days in St. Louis” by C.H. Wetmore and Lincoln Steffens. The article introduces the muckraking era.
Beatrix Potter writes her first Peter Rabbit story.
Upton Sinclair exposes the public-health threat of the meat-packing industry in The Jungle.
Photoplay debuts as the first magazine for movie fans.
First crossword puzzle appears in the New York World. See Crossword Puzzle Guide
Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes published.
The first Pulitzer Prizes are awarded for editorial writing, reporting, history of the United States and biography or autobiography. Fiction, drama and poetry debut in 1918.
The first op-ed page appears in the New York Times.
Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence wins Pulitzer Prize.
James Joyce's Ulysses published. The U.S. Post Office destroys 500 copies of the novel because it is considered obscene.
Reader's Digest debuts.
Time Magazine debuts.
The Book-of-the-Month Club is founded and begins to sell books at reduced prices by mail and on a subscription basis.
Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead published.
Esquire debuts as the first men's magazine.
Allen Lane's Penguin Press, an English publishing house, reintroduces the paperback book.
Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind published.
Charles Schulz introduces the Peanuts comic strip.
The first issue of TV Guide magazine hits the newsstands on April 3 in 10 cities with a circulation of 1,560,000.
Playboy magazine hits newsstands. A nude Marilyn Monroe graces the cover.
Kay Thompson's Eloise, the Plaza Hotel's most famous guest, is a bestseller.
Grace Metalious's steamy Peyton Place is a bestseller.
Rolling Stone and New York Magazine debut, spawning the popularity of special-interest and regional magazines.
Gloria Steinem's Ms magazine debuts.
People magazine debuts, with Mia Farrow gracing the cover.
c. 1980
About 70 percent of the books sold in the United States are paperbacks.
With the availability of relatively inexpensive laser printers and computers, tools for desktop publishing begin to be commonly used.
The Academic American Encyclopedia is available on CD-ROM. It is the first reference work published in this medium.
Salman Rushdie's novel Satanic Verses is published and sparks immediate controversy. Islamic militants put a price on his head.
Entertainment Weekly hits newsstands.
For the first time in history, chain bookstores outsell independent stores, signaling what many fear to be the death of smaller booksellers at the hands of superstores.
Several traditional newspapers launch online versions for the internet.
J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is published in the U.K. It comes to U.S. in 1998 as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Tina Brown, editor of The New Yorker sends shockwaves through the publishing world with her resignation from the venerable weekly. David Remnick is hired to replace her.
Self-publishing on the internet takes off when Blogger begins giving people free blogs to share their thoughts, opinions, and writing online.
Twitter arrives with a new form of short publishing as well as a new way to break news and spread information.
Amazon releases Kindle for eBooks, which begin to gain traction.
Sales of tablets continue to grow, making eBooks more popular than ever.
For the first time, eBooks out sale printed books at Amazon.

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