Little Bits of History

Hot Off the Presses

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 28, 2011

Steam-powered printing press

November 28, 1814: The London Times is printed using a steam-powered press for the first time. This made newspapers cheaper and with a greater ability to be mass-produced. The German inventors, Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Bauer, were working on their steam-powered press in London. John Walter of The Times was interested in the new machine. It was tested in secret so as to not upset the pressmen who were working at the paper. When it was found to be satisfactory, The Times produced their product with the new technology.

Newspapers, by definition, carry news. They also contain information that might not be considered “news” and advertisements to help with the cost of production. The first daily sheet we know of is Acta Diurna (Daily Events) that Julius Caesar had posted around Rome in 59 BC. The earliest printed papers came from Beijing, China in 748.

Johannes Gutenberg brought us the printing press in 1451 which made mass production easier. The first German newspaper was brought to market in 1502 while the first English language paper was available by 1513. In 1609 the first regularly published paper was in print in Europe, Germany’s Avisa Relation oder Zeitung. The first paper in North America was published in Boston in 1690. With rising literacy rates, the numbers of different papers printed, and the numbers of the papers sold both increased.

Today, 75% of the 100 best-selling papers are printed in Asia. In 2005 China had the greatest total circulation with 93.5 million papers sold per day. India was next with 78.9 million per day while Japan sold 70.4 million per day. The US was next with a marked drop to 48.3 million per day. Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, and Mainichi Shimbun, all from Japan, are the best-selling papers in the world. Germany’s Bild is the only non-Asian paper in the top ten best seller list. The lists of circulation records are for paid circulation, which is what advertisement fees are based upon. The numbers do not include online portals and the number of hits these papers receive with their non-print versions.

“Newspapers:  dead trees with information smeared on them.” – Horizon, “Electronic Frontier”

“Histories are a kind of distilled newspapers.” – Thomas Carlyle

“The evil that men do lives on the front pages of greedy newspapers, but the good is oft interred apathetically inside.” – Brooks Atkinson

“Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.” – Ben Hecht

Also on this day:
The Pitch Experiment – In 2000, the eighth drop in the 73-year-old Pitch Experiment drops.
Night Life & Death – In 1942, the Cocoanut Grove burned.