Source: Oxford University Press
Planographic printmaking technique based on the antipathy of grease and water, and the attraction of these two substances to others of a similar nature and to a prepared surface of porous limestone or grained metal. The term was first used in French on a music cover c. 1803; however, its Prague-born inventor, j. n. f. alois Senefelder, preferred the term ‘chemical printing’ for the technique he developed in Munich between 1796 and 1799. In Britain it was called ‘polyautography’, until H. Bankes entitled the first English treatise: Lithography; or, The Art of Making Drawings on Stone, for the Purpose of Being Multiplied by Printing (Bath, 1813). Adaptations of Senefelder’s technique are still called lithography, although stone has long been commercially superseded. Senefelder himself discussed metal and composition plates in his 1801 patent and 1818 treatise. Recently, micro-layered plates with two metals—one receptive to grease, another to water—have been devised, as has waterless litho, where different substances within the plate attract or reject the ink. Manual or photomechanical images generated on translucent film can also be transferred by light to continuous tone alloy plates. The link between traditional and contemporary practice is a surface with ink-accepting and ink-rejecting areas in the same plane.
From Grove Art Online