Chinese Movable Type

 Revolutionary Print Invention

There are some inventions that are so revolutionary they change the way that we perform tasks. Take, for example, the changes in how we ‘write’ using moveable type. First created in China, typography credit goes to Bi Sheng who reformed engraving type between 1045 and 1058 (Song Dynasty) that eventually became the ‘print’ we know today. 

Reforming Engraving Type
The purpose of Sheng’s typography invention was to reform the basis of engraving type. He did this by sawing wood into very minuscule pieces and lettering each small piece of wood in order to make it moveable. The letters were arranged on an iron board based on what was needed for a certain article. Once printing was complete, it was possible to reuse the letters again for another piece of writing. 

3000 Characters
In a short period of time Sheng quickly had more than 3000 characters in common use. This was due to the fact that it was not easy to find a character from the whole charters that were already created. He developed an easier method by putting characters into wood plates based on only the first parts of pronunciation. 

Using Two Iron Boards
Over time Sheng continued to transform his typography method by trying to make it simpler and more efficient. He used two iron boards instead of just one which meant that one board could be used for printing, while the other board could be used to arrange characters at the same time. This sped up the entire process and made moveable type so much faster than before. 

What About an Uncommon Word?
For uncommon or rarely used words, Sheng prepared movable characters that could very quickly be put into the bake kiln. While not necessarily a fast process, it was still convenient and made it possible to print uncommon words with ease.

This moveable type undoubtedly transformed the history of printing.

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