In the course of human history, there have been some inventions that have completely changed the way we live today. One of the most important innovations is the disc-shaped wheel and paper. Imagine if no wheel was invented, where would we have been today without cars, cycles, trains, carts, etc? Or rather what would they be? Similarly how difficult life would be if no paper was ever invented. You may think that who needs papers when computers are around. Well, if we think of olden times, it is hard to imagine where would Einstein write down all his formulas. Let us understand more about this invention through this Buzzle article.
Who Invented Paper?
Papyrus ~ Egyptians
The art of paper making was first started by the Egyptians, sometime around 3500 BCE. It was made from papyrus reeds. The stalks of this plant were cut into thin strips and soaked in water having some sugar content. It was then turned into pulp, which was later dried into sheets of papyrus. The word 'paper' has been derived for papyrus itself. This is considered to be the first attempt at making paper. Hence, the Egyptians were the first to invent paper.
Paper ~ Chinese
The person who invented Chinese paper was of course a Chinese. Let's take a look at what the Chinese used for writing before paper was invented. The Chinese used bamboo or silk parchments to write on. These were heavy and completely impractical. The inventor of paper and the first person to standardize the production of paper was Cai Lun. He was a eunuch who held the post of Shang Fang Si, which meant that he was in charge of manufacturing instruments in the Imperial Court of Emperor Han Ho Ti. The invention of paper gave Cai Lun a lot of wealth and an aristocratic status in the court. Later, he was involved in a palace intrigue and was sentenced to prison. It was then that he consumed poison and ended his life.
According to a legend, it is believed that he observed a wasp making its nest and used the same technique to make paper. He presented Emperor Han Ho Ti with the first sheet of paper in the first year of Yuan-Hsing, 105 CE. Cai Lun used the inner bark of a mulberry tree, bamboo fibers, and rags to make paper. The bark and the fiber were mixed in water and drained into a piece of rag. Once dry, a light writing surface was created. Slowly, the use of paper spread throughout the kingdom.
The Chinese deeply guarded the secret of paper making for centuries. However, at one point in time, the paper making technique spread to the Arabs in the 8th century and Europe in the late 14th century. This then changed the course of how we communicated and stored information forever.
In conclusion, it can be said that while the first attempt at paper making is credited to the Egyptians, the credit for the person who invented paper, as we know it today, goes to Cai Lun, who invented the first sheet of paper in 105 CE.
Postscript: Something for an afterthought―had paper not been invented, so many events from our history would never have been recorded.