The evolution of colour printing

The evolution of colour printing

From the cave paintings of prehistoric Europe to scribing on parchment in Ancient Greece, the process of reproducing text and imagery through printing itself can be dated back earlier than 3000 BC.

As for modern colour printing, the first successful job took place over 40 years ago. Thanks to advancements in printer technology, colour printing is now more sophisticated than ever before.

In this blog, we take a look back over colour printing history, how this medium has evolved and developed over time and explore how we’ve got to the sophistication and impressive quality we see today.

From the cave paintings of prehistoric Europe to scribing on parchment in Ancient Greece, the process of reproducing text and imagery through printing itself can be dated back earlier than 3000 BC.

As for modern colour printing, the first successful job took place over 40 years ago. Thanks to advancements in printer technology, colour printing is now more sophisticated than ever before.

In this blog, we take a look back over colour printing history, how this medium has evolved and developed over time and explore how we’ve got to the sophistication and impressive quality we see today.

What is colour printing?

Colour printing involves the process of reproducing material in colour on a printed page. The wide spectrum of colours visible on a colour printed piece of work is created with a four-colour process.

In the four-colour process, the piece being reproduced is separated into three colours:

  • Cyan
  • Magenta
  • Yellow

The fourth colour – black - is then added too.

When was colour printing invented?

Colour printing has undergone dramatic developments in recent times, with the first successful colour print job being completed in 1977.

The process of printing itself can be traced back as early as 3000 BC. The 20th century’s advancement of computer technology led to modern electronic printing becoming more accessible.

Colour printing history

Colour printing has developed hugely over time thanks to the invention of the movable type press in the 16th century. Here are some highlights:

  • The movable-type press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1550.
  • The industrial revolution mechanized the print press and the introduction of lithography pushed the printing process forward, making it far easier for images to be transferred.
  • The 19th century saw advancements in photography and photomechanical printing plates, which helped to transform modern printing.
  • Colour printing, together with the development of colour monitors were developed in 1976 by the Mitsushita Corporation.
  • The very first two and three-colour printing processes were developed in 1910 thanks to advancements in technology, with the four-colour process being used in current modern printing.
  • Thanks to key advancements, such as the development of the first commercial photocopier in 1958 and the world’s first laser printer introduced in 1969, 20th century consumers were inundated with choice.
  • By the 1980s consumers could choose from a variety of printers, including inkjet, laser and dot matrix.
  • By the late 1980s, colour printers were more readily available to consumers, more accessible and user-friendly.
  • Colour printers have developed to become the sophisticated pieces of technology we know and love today, producing colour print quality of the highest level, together with finish and quality that is second to none.

Find out more today

Whether yours is a small business or a larger enterprise, and you’re looking to find out more about your colour printing options, please get in touch today - we’re always on hand and happy to help.

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