China: birthplace of paper
The birth of paper, as we know it today, took place under the Chinese Han Dynasty in AD 105. Ts'ai Lun, a court official, invented a papermaking process which primarily used rags (textile waste) as the raw material with which to make paper.
Chinese papermakers subsequently developed a number of specialities such as sized (paper with special surface properties), coated and dyed paper. Further advances saw paper designed to be resistant to insects and the use of a fibre-yielding plant - bamboo - de-fibred by cooking.
Papermaking and innovation went hand-in-hand and the papermakers enabled China to develop its civilisation more rapidly, but they did encounter problems satisfying the growing demand for paper for governmental administration.