Relatively inexpensive and simple to produce, paper will please poets, astronomers, and accountants.
Paper, as we know it today, most likely dates back as far as 200 BCE in China. As a written medium, paper replaced bamboo tablets, which were too heavy, and silk, which was too expensive. Cai Lun, an imperial court official, is traditionally credited as the inventor of modern papermaking using plant fibers, in particular mulberry tree bark. In 105 CE, he described a papermaking technique that would continue to be used for centuries, first in China and then in the Arab world from the eighth century onwards. Plant fibers were mixed with water in a mortar and ground into a smooth pulp. The mixture was then spread out flat in a wooden frame with mesh to hold the fibers in place while the water drained out, resulting in a sheet that only needed to be dried before use.