Alois Senefelder: 1771 – 1834

As I prepared a document for my students’ work on this snow day when class would have occurred, I asked them to read this excellent essay by “Multimedia Man” and chose to reblog it on my site. Enjoy!

MULTIMEDIAMAN

By some estimates, offset lithography represents approximately two-thirds of all print today. Even with the rapid growth of digital printing, the oil and water based process, that also transfers the image to the paper with rubber blankets, is still by far the most dominant form of print media production.

When separated from its offset component, lithography (which means stone printing) has been in existence for 213 years and counting. It is distinct from its relief, gravure, screen, xerographic and ink jet cousins in that the ink-carrying print image area is chemically separated from the non-image area. It is this quality—both the positive and negative image are on the same flat surface—that places lithography in a category of printing technology called planography.

Although offset lithography is print’s premiere technology (in terms of versatility and volume), it has only occupied this position since 1950 or just over 60 years. The previous dominant…

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