Cai Lun's paper making processEven though archaeological evidence shows that paper may have been made even a little earlier, Cai Lun was the first to have his efforts recorded. Like many inventors through the centuries, he built upon the work of others.

Cave PaintingOkay, people had written even before paper was invented. They scratched on cave walls, painted too, and drew characters on wet clay. They even wrote on papyrus made from thinly-sliced papyrus reed which they glued together to make a sheet.

But it was paper, not papyrus, which has come to touch just about every aspect of our lives, from term papers and books, to money and personal care products.

There’s never a day, and hardly a waking hour, that isn’t made better by paper.

People did the weaving to make papyrus. What Cai Lun and others discovered was that plant fibers, separated and suspended in water, would form their own woven mats: paper.