A Brief History of Printing Ink

May 13, 2020

History of printer ink

Printing has been around for centuries. In fact, the earliest form of printing dates back to at least 200 AD. Now, of course, that was done differently than how we print today. There is no question that many of us rely on printers at home and work to print documents.

But where did the ink come from? Certainly, our ancestors didn't have brands like HP and Epson—let alone printers or electricity. Continue reading for a brief history of printing ink.

Different cultures

Centuries ago, the idea of printing varied widely from how we know it today. Generally, the act of printing simply meant inscribing something onto another surface. Think back to the age of the Vikings, when they would carve runes into wood, stone, or bone. If you don't know what we are talking about, check out the Björketorp Runestone in Blekinge, Sweden—it dates back to approximately 600 AD.

Obviously, our idea of printing has shifted dramatically. Johannes Gutenberg did one of the earliest examples of printing on paper in the 1440s in Europe. Until Gutenberg, most people only used inks for art.

The original black inks often came from lamp black. However, as creativity grew, more individuals wanted to use colors (primarily for art). Many colored inks came from animal and plant minerals. Today, many of the colors come from various pigments, glues, and oils.

The start of inkjet printing

The inkjet printer technology began in 1950 by Ichiro Endo, but inkjet printers did not become readily available until the 1970s. There have been speculations as to which company was the pioneer in inkjet technology; however, the exact answer to who truly established this technology is hard to say. Endo was working with Canon during the 1950s, so some argue Canon was the founding company.

However, as technology improved through the years, companies like HP and Epson also played a significant role in innovating the inkjet printer we know today. We like to say it was a group effort. The companies certainly do not feel that way; instead, they chose to compete with ink cartridges.

With this brief history of printing ink, you are probably wondering how brand-name ink cartridges got so expensive. Well, there is no question that these brands make great printers. However, they are trying to prove themselves and their value by having overpriced ink cartridges.

Here at 1ink.com, we don't agree that ink cartridges should break the bank. That's why we offer discount printer ink that is high-quality. We hold our products to the same quality standards as the original equipment manufacturers to ensure the best products for our customers. Shop our extensive inventory today and see how much you can save on your printing supplies.