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Announcement: Hardware Innovations (Historical)

Technological innovations from the age of manuscripts through modern codex books and document forms.


“A design cut in relief on a block of wood, for printing from; a print or impression obtained from this; a wood-engraving.â€? (from the OED. n.)

Starter Links: [under construction]


“1. a. Antiq. An instrument made of metal, bone, etc., having one end sharp-pointed for incising letters on a wax tablet, and the other flat and broad for smoothing the tablet and erasing what is written. 1. Also applied to similar instruments in later use.â€? (From the OED.n.1,a)

Starter Links: [under construction]


“1. Paper, parchment, or other writing material designed to be reusable after any writing on it has been erased. b. In extended use: a thing likened to such a writing surface, esp. in having been reused or altered while still retaining traces of its earlier form; a multi-layered record.â€? (From the OED.n.A,1-2)

Starter Links: [under construction]


A book printed using moveable type prior to the year 1501 AD.

Starter Links: [under construction]


15th-18th century chidren’s primers made of paper, a transparent sheet of animal horn, and a wood base.

“It may not look like one, but a hornbook is really a book. Paper was pretty expensive once and hornbooks were made so children could learn to read without using a lot of paper. A hornbook was usually a small, wooden paddle with just one sheet of paper glued to it. But because that paper was so expensive, parents and teachers wanted to protect it. So they covered the paper with a very thin piece of cow’s horn. The piece of cow’s horn was so thin, you could see right through it. That’s why these odd books were called ‘hornbooks.’” (From Blackwell’s History of Education Web Site.)

Starter Links: Blackwell’s About the Hornbook | Definition of the Hornbook on Bartleby.com

The Codex Transliteracies Research Report

Invention and adoption of the codex book:

The codex form of book — a “sheaf of bound pagesâ€? — became prevalent in Europe over the previously popular format of the scroll sometime around the fifth century A.D. In its inception and subsequent technical improvements, the codex revolutionized modern thought to include, among other things, a new understanding of individual and informative portability — through space, likewise through time. Increased efforts at portability of the codex not only directly added to the spread of literacy to different economic classes, but also contributed to changes in the format of writing towards the use of academic research and towards general “user-friendliness.â€? Notably, such technical developments mirror, or at least relate to recent concerns and trends in personal computing, including but not limited to the size and appearance of computer hardware, the layout and graphic design of web pages, and interface design of computer software.

Starter Links or References: Carter, John. ABC for Book Collectors. Revised by Nicholas Barker. 7th ed. Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 1995 | Chappell, Warren. A Short History of the Printed Word. Edited by Robert Bringhurst. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks Publishers, Inc., 1999.

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Robin Chin