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File Format
Name Paper
Released ~200 BC

Various sorts of paper

Various sorts of paper

For Open XML Paper, see OpenXPS.

Paper is a medium for the representation, storage, and distribution of Written Languages, as well as pictures and artwork (though photography is often distributed instead on photographic paper which is different in composition from normal paper). Writing on paper can be done by hand (with pens, pencils, crayons, paint, or other implements and pigments) or printed via various devices. Paper can be a medium for digital information as well, through media such as punched cards, punched tape, and bar codes.

Paper was invented in China somewhere between the 2nd century BC and the 2nd century AD, and eventually replaced such earlier writing media as papyrus (made from plants) and parchment (from animal skins). Gutenberg's printing press using movable type (around 1450) popularized the use of paper for mass distribution of writing, though Chinese inventors had used similar techniques much earlier. Paper is made from cellulose pulp, from wood (or other plant fibers) or rags.

Many forms of paper (especially the cheaper kinds) contain acid which eventually causes its deterioration, causing archival preservation difficulties. Archivists and collectors often use acid-free bags and boards to store paper documents and artifacts. Some paper items originally produced as ephemera have become rare and valuable collectibles, including comic books, trading cards, and postage stamps. For such items, preserving their original "mint condition" is considered highly important.

The thinness of paper makes it versatile for physical transfer of analog data. Paper can be delivered by postal mail, pneumatic tube capsule, carrier pigeon (see RFC 1149 and RFC 2549), or rolled into a bottle and thrown into the sea. As for digital transfer, it can be scanned and faxed. A drawback of paper-based data storage is its ease of deletion: fire, water, animals, and shredders pose threats to data stored on paper.

It can also be goat chow... as a bit of trivia, goats are able to digest cellulose fibers such as paper, making it nutritious to them in a way it is not for humans (which doesn't always stop them from trying). Maybe books printed on lasagna noodles would work better.



Cases of preservation, destruction, or loss of paper documents

Technologies of paper and writing implements

Other links and references

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