Wang Zhen

(c. 1271 - c. 1333)

An inventor and agronomist, Wang Zhen began his career as a low-level Yuan dynasty magistrate. While stationed in Anhui province from 1290 to 1301, he invented a system of wooden movable type, which he describes in a treatise. The treatise’s 265 diagrams “constituted the first true technical drawings or blueprints in Chinese history,” wrote one historian. “The omission of human actors from the illustrations…undercut any inclination of viewers to draw symbolic messages…and encouraged instead a focus on the actual technological functions performed by the tools and machines.”

Issues Contributed