The world was never the same again.
Written communication in the form of pictures and then an alphabet.
The initial written form of communication was a pictograph. Each picture represented different actions and objects. The earliest forms of these picture words were in 3500 B.C. in an area of the world called Sumeria, that is now Iraq.
A Sumarian clay tablet 3500 B.C.
The Egyptians came up with hieroglyphics, which was developed a few hundred years later.
The Chinese used pictographs around 2000 to 1500 B.C.
Written communication in the form of an alphabet had a foundation of symbols relating to sounds and not signs. The Phoenicians established an alphabet around 800 B.C. The Romans much later took the Greek alphabet and translated it into 26 letters. An alphabet was far more efficient than the old system of pictographs. A simple sentence might require less than 50 letters and punctuation marks using an alphabet. In comparison, that same sentence would use about 9,000 pictures to say the same thing.
The invention of paper was necessary once a form of written communication was invented. Paper was the surface that made written communication manageable.
At first, clay tablets were used for written communications but they were bulky and difficult to transport. The Egyptians came up with a woven surface from the papyrus plant and painted hieroglyphics on this paper. The Greeks used a parchment from animal hides. But it was the Chinese who invented the standard writing surface of paper that is still used today. While the Chinese were using paper around 100 B.C., it was not used widely in Europe for another thousand years.
The world’s oldest book from China, 868.
The invention of paper allowed those who could read and write to attain wealth and social status. It also made tax collecting and record keeping easier. Another way that the invention of paper had a profound influence on society was that history and journals could be written for future generations to read. Finally, the laws of the land could be recorded and developed on paper thereby establishing a posted code of civil conduct.