J.P. Gasway

Responsive - Innovative - Trusted

History of Paper

We associate paper with writing or books which makes it easy to forget its many other uses. Paper is not just for books, but for packaging, cleaning and a host of other applications.

Though the Egyptians were known for their use of papyrus more than 4,000 years ago and the Chinese wrote on parchment made of bamboo, the invention of paper as we know it did not come until the Han Dynasty and is credited to Cai Lun. Cai Lun was a court official who, around 105 BC, thought to combine natural materials like tree bark, fibers pulled from rags and fishnet. His process involved beating the material into pulp which was made to hold paper together in sheets more easily.

After its origin in China, the production and use of paper spread steadily as did its production process. During the 8th Century Chinese the production of paper spread to the Islamic world. During the 11th Century paper was introduced in Europe and by the 13th Century the process of producing paper was refined with paper mills using waterwheels. In the 19th Century the invention of wood-based papers came along.

Thanks to the ideas of a few and work of many, paper has become a rich and colorful history which spans across the world and involves us all.

Guy Stoecker