Ts'ai Lun ,the inventor of paper,is man whose name is probably unfamiliar to most readers.Considering the importance of his invention, the extent to which he has been ignored in the west is indeed surprising.there are major encyclopedias which do not have ever brief articles on Ts'ai Lun ,and his name is seldom mentioned in standard history textbook.In view of the obvious importance of paper this paucity of references to Ts'ai Lun may arouse suspicion that he is a purely apocry phal figure careful research ,how ever, makes it absolutely clear that Ts'ai Lun was a real man and official at the Chinese imperial court ,who ,in or about the year 105, presented emperor ho to with samples of paper .the Chinese account of t'sai Lun invention (which appears in the official history of the hand dynasty) is entirely straightforward and believeble without the least hint of magic or legend about it.the Chinese have always enedited T'sai lun with the invention of paper ,and name is well known in China.Not a great deal is known about Ts'ai lun's life . Chinese records do mention that he was a eunuch.It is also recorded that the emperor was greatly pleased by Ts'ai Lun's invention and that as a result Ts'ai Lun was promoted received an aristocratic titles,and become wealthy later on ,however ,he become invention in place intrugus and this upon his being disgraced,Ts'ai Lun took a bath ,dressed in his finest robes, and drank poison. The use of paper became wides press in China during the second ecrtury and within a few centuries the Chinese were exporting paper to other parts of Asia .For a long time they kept the technique of papermaking a secret .In 75,however ,some Chinese paper markers were captured by the Arabs,and not long . afterwards paper was being manufactured in both Samarkand and Baghdad .the art f papermaking gradually spread throughout the Arabs word,and in the twelfth century the Europeans learned the art from the Arabs. The use of paper gradually spread, and after Gutenberg invented modern printing,paper replace parchment as the principle writing material in the west .Today ,paper is so common that we take it far granted,and it is hard to envisage what the world was like without it .in China,before Ts'ai Lun,most books were made of bamboo obviously such book were extremely heavy and elumsy .some books were written on silk ,but that was too expensive for general use .In the west before paper was introduced, most books were written on parchment or vellum , which were made of specially processed sheclsking or calfskin .this material had replaced the papyrus favored by the Greeks, Romans,and. Egyptians.Both parchment and papyrus,however ,not only were scarves ,but we're also expensive to prepare. That books and other written materials can today be produced so cheaply and in such large quantities is due in considerable part to the existence of paper .it is true that paper would not be as important as it is today we're it not for the printing press, however it is equally true that the printing press would not be nearly so important were it not for the existence of a cheap and plentiful material on which to print .Which man ,then , should be rank higher :Ts'lun or Gutenberg? although I consider the two of almost equally importance ,I have ranked Ts'al Lun slightly higher for the following reason paper has many other applications besides it's use as a writing material.In fact it is an amazingly versatile material and a large percentage of the paper currently produced is used for purposes other that printing .Ts'ai Lun preceded Gutenberg, and it is altogether possible that Gutenberg would not have invented printing had paper not already existed.If only one of the two had ever been invented I suspect that more book would be produced by the combination of block printing (which was known long before Gutenberg) and paper than by the combination of movable type and parchment .is it appropriate to include both Gutenberg and Ts'ai Lun among the ten most influential people who ever lived?In order to realize the file importance of the inventions of paper and printing it is necessary to consider the relative culture development of china and the west .prior to the second century china civilization was consistently less advanced than western Civilization .During the first millennium , China's accomplished exceeded those of the west ,and for a period of seven or eight centuries, Chinese,civilization was by most standards the most advanced on earth .after the fifteenth century, however ,western Europe outstripped china.various culture explanations for these changes have been advanced,but most such theories seem to ignore what I believe is the simplest , explanation.it is true,of course,that agriculture and writing developed carlier in the middle east than did in China .that alone , however, would not explain why Chinese civilization so persistently lagged behind that of the west .the crucial factor,I believed ,was that prior to Ts'ai Lun there was no convenient writing material available in China .In the western world papyrus was available,and although that material had its draw backes, papyrus rolls were infinitely superiory to books made of wood or bamboo .Lack of a suitable writing material was an overpowering obstacle to chines cultural progress. A Chinese scholar needed a wagon to carry around what we would consider a quite modest number of books.one can imagine the difficulty of trying to run a government administration on such a basis!Ts'ai Lun's invention of paper, however changed the situation entirely .with a suitable writing material available Chinese civilization advanced rapidly,and within a few centuries was able to catch up with the west.(of course political disunity in the west played a role ,but that was far from being the whole story .In the fourth century,china was less United than the west but nevertheless was developing rapidly in cultural matters.) During the succeeding centuries, while progress in the west was comparatively slow ,the chines brought forth such major inventions as the compass, gunpowder and block printing .since paper was cheaper than parchment,and available in larger quantities,the tables were how turned .after western nations began using lapery ,they were able to hold their own vis_a_vis china ,and ever succeeded in narrowing the cultural gap.the writing of Marco Polo, however, confirm the fact that ever in the thirteen century ,china was farmore prosperous than europe.why then did china eventuy fall behind the west ? various complex cultural explanations have been offered,but perhaps a simple technological one will serve .in fifteenth century Europe a genius named Johan Gutenberg developed a techniue for the mass production of books . Thereafter,europen cultural advanced rapidly.As china had no Gutenberg,the Chinese stayed with block printing,and their culture progressed relatively slowly if one accepted the foregoing analysis,one is forced to the conclusion that Ts'ai Lun and Johann Gutenberg are two of the centural figures in human history.indeed Ts'ai Lun stands out for another reason .Most in ventions are a product of their times ,and would have come about even if the person who actually inverted them had never lived .But such is clearly not the case with regard to paper .Europeans did not start to manufacture it untill a thousand years after Ts'ai Lun,and them only because they had learned the precess from the Arabs.For that matter ,even after they had seen paper of Chinese manufacture it by themselves.Clerly, the invention of a method of manufacturimu true paper was sufficiently difficult that it was not bound to occur in any. Moderately advanced culture,but ray required the explicit contribution of some very gifted individual.Ts'ai Lun was such an individual and the method of paper making that he employed is (aside from me chanization, introduced about 1800 A.D) basically the same teachnique that has been unsed ever since.These are the reasons I think it appropriate to place both gutoenberg and Ts'ai Lun among the first ten persons in this book ,with Ts'ai Lun ahead of Gutenberg.