The development of ink and paint has a long-lasting history that dates back to more than 40,000 years ago. In our modern world, the role of ink is hardly ever analyzed. In the meantime, a closer examination of the surrounding environment is likely to show that the presence of ink is overwhelming – every booklet and advertisement, every letter in the ID card, every colorful poster – all these are the elements that could not have need produced without the use of ink and paint. As such, it is proposed to perform a brief overview of the key milestones in the development of this commonly known substances in order to track how they changed throughout the time.
The history of ink and paint show that their initial invention was associated with the human’s need for writing and drawing. In this view, there are different opinions regarding which need was the major trigger of the invention of ink. As such, Morris (2014) argues that drawing or the so-called “artistic” motives would be initially prevailing – the first traces of the use of ink date back to more than 40,000 years ago when ancient people would use this substance to register their impressions of the natural world on the inner surface of the caves in Spain and Indonesia. Most interestingly, people would use ink for artistic purposes only until around the 2.500 BCE, when the Egyptians and the Chinese would first try writing with ink (Sarton, 1967). On the whole, it might be summarized that ink was invented more than 40,000 as substance helping the record the local history in the forms of drawings and was further re-discovered as a substance that can be used for writing purposes.
The history of ink and paint’s creation is vast and complicated. The preserved records show that the first Chinese inks were made of soot and animal glue. The famous Indian ink was developed around the 1sr century BCE. This ink was made of carbon black, lamp black or the so-called bone black. On the whole, all types of ink would be normally classified by their color: black or brown. The former would be the carbon ink, while the latter might be either iron gall ink or the so-called sepia (Ellis, 2016). From a historical perspective, carbon black ink is particularly curious. It was simultaneously used by ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Indians. Its major advantage resided in its long durability. In the meantime, the use of carbon black ink limited the choice of the writing surfaces, which prompted the invention of the new inks that could be compatible with non-absorbent papers. As such, the 8th century was marked by the invention of the iron gall ink (Kaye, 2008).
The use of iron gall ink would be regarded as a traditional mode of writing for a long period from 12th up the 19th century (Baron, Lindquist, & Shevlin, 2007). The next era in the development of ink and paint was marked by the invention of the woodblocks and movable-type printing. Until that time, the ink was mainly used for hand-written texts. In the 2nd century AD, the situation changes – woodblocks begin to gain popularity across China and, later on, Korea (Hunsen & Curtis, 2008). The major barrier to the development of woodblocks resided in the large scope of labor required for their production. As a result, printed text was extremely expensive which made available for limited population only (Needham & Tsuen-Hsuin, 1985).
The printed text revolution would gradually move to Europe – in the middle of the 15th century, Johannes Gutenberg developed a letter casting technique which was based on the use of a hand mold (Childress, 2008). The cost-effectiveness of this technology allowed for a mass production of letters reducing the final cos of a printed book significantly. Gutenberg would also invent a new type of ink; it was an oil-based substance which made it more compatible with metal (Hook, 2010). The new ink was a slight transformation of the carbon-based one with a small exception that its formula would also include such components as copper and titanium (Spilsbury, 2016).
The invention of the printing press opened new prospects for the written texts facilitating their spread significantly. One of the most vivid examples of the role this invention played for the relevant society is the Bible printing. With that printing, people were able to explore the word of God, and the religious postulates would travel from nation to nation at a high speed (Crompton, 2004). In the meantime, it is essential to note that printed texts were still rather expensive which turned them into a special privilege for higher classes only. The next era in the development of ink and paint is, thereby, marked by the enhancement of business communication. This enhancement became possible thanks to the genius invention of the typewriter made by Hansen Writing Ball at the end of the 19th century. The invention of a new technology was naturally accompanied with the design of a more compatible ink formula – the so-called pigmented ink which was produced with the addition of castor oil which allowed for its staying moist until it touches the paper surface (Rhodes, & Streeter, 1999).
The last era of the development of ink and paint is associated with the rapid growth of the computer technologies that dates back to the late 1960s. At that period, the daisywheel printers were first introduced using an upgraded electrostatic system which allows for the ink transfer. Initially, this oil was produced by mixing carbon powder, iron oxide, and sugar. Later on, however, a polymer mix was implemented as a more cost-effective solution – its operation principle relies on the fuser which helps to melt particles of the toner so that they stay they can easily bond with the surface of the paper (Kelly & Lindblom, 2006). In the end of the 20th century, such leading players in the relevant market as Hewlett-Packard would first introduce the so-called Inkjet printers. The invention of these technologies was naturally accompanied by the development of new inks: solvent, aqueous, and dye-sublimation, to name but a few. These printers operate by the principle of minor ink particles being sprayed onto the paper, with the help of the special magnetized plates (IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, 1996).
As such, it might be concluded, that the development of ink and paint was largely determined by the invention of the new technologies. Thus, every new printing technology would naturally signify the development of an upgraded ink formula. On the whole, it might be seen that the invention of ink and paint plays a critical role in shaping the human history. It has had a powerful impact on the establishment of such important elements of culture as literature, press, and Art. Moreover, the very earliest use ink has made it possible for us to explore the ancient history of our ancestries. This analysis has helped to examine the role of ink from different perspectives: commercial and artistic. In this view, Ogborn (2008) summarizes well the role of ink in the world history stating that it “traces a history of writing, trade, and empire that is located across a global geography of sites and connections both in and between Asia and Europe” (p. 24-25).
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