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Chinese Invention of Printing - Creativity and Innovation


Chinese invention of printing (c. 1045)


The creative Chinese...


The Chinese invented many things years before they were discovered in the West.

These are the most important (from Robert Temple’s 1998 book, The Genius of China):

 Chinese Invention of Printing - Creativity and Innovation

Movable type printing c.1045

(400 years earlier than in the West)


Gunpowder 9th century

(300 years earlier)


Magnetic compass 4th century BC

(1500 years earlier)


Paper 2nd century BC

(1400 years earlier)


Paper money 9th century

(850 years earlier)


Decimal mathematics 14th century BC

(2,300 years earlier)


Fireworks 10th century

(250 years earlier)


Mechanical clock 725

(585 years earlier)


Iron plough & crop rotation 6th century BC

(2,200 years earlier)


Steel manufacture 2nd century BC

(2,000 years earlier)


Steam engine 5th century

(1,200 years earlier)

 Chinese Invention of Printing - Creativity and Innovation

The Chinese also discovered Isaac Newton’s (pictured right) First Law of Motion in the 4th century BC, 2,000 years before he did!

As you can see, movable printing was invented in China hundreds of years before Johannes Gutenberg did...



The genius of GutenbergChinese Invention of Printing - Creativity and Innovation

The German Johannes Gutenberg (c. 1398-1468), pictured right. was the first European to use movable type print typing around 1440, 400 years after the Chinese invented it!

Gutenberg’s printing (including the famous Gutenberg Bible in 1455);

  • revolutionized learning in Europe.
  • made possible the scientific and cultural transformation of the Renaissance.

European printing was also greatly influenced by:Chinese Invention of Printing - Creativity and Innovation

  • Chinese books (seen by European travellers like Marco Polo, pictured right)
  • three Chinese inventions - see below.


Three Chinese inventions influencing European printing


1. Paper 

(which arrived in Europe via Islamic Eastern countries).


2. Playing cards

(introduced into Europe in the second half of the fourteenth century).Chinese Invention of Printing - Creativity and Innovation


3. Paper money

(probably imported in the 13th century by the invading Mongolians, led by Genghis Khan, pictured right).



Who invented movable type printing in China?

Bi Shêng who made his type with baked clay.

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