Fingerprinting Fingerprinting has a longer history than most people know. Tablets dating back to ancient times have been found in China with thumb prints used as signatures. In 14th century Persia, a government official was the first to put in writing the fact that no two fingerprints are alike.
Fingerprinting is associated with criminal investigations. However, individuals may be fingerprinted for other reasons. In fact, the first use of fingerprint identification in modern times was when William J. Herschel required Indian contractors to put their hand print to contract documents. The first use of fingerprinting by the police was somewhat later. Background checks generally require them and in the United States immigration routinely fingerprints legal immigrants. Fingerprinting may be required as part of a job application. Traditionally, fingerprinting was done using a special ink pad. The person's fingers would be rolled on the pad and then on a sheet of paper. The use of ink pads has faded away.
Nowadays, fingerprints are taken using a fingerprint scanner that reads fingerprints electronically. These digital scanners are used by law enforcement to take full sets of prints, but also for biometric identification. The price of the scanners has come down to the point where they are routinely attached to higher end laptops to allow foolproof personal identification. They are also used to secure doors.
Reading fingerprints used to be a highly technical skill. Forensic scientists would have to visually compare fingerprint patterns between samples. Nowadays, computer software is used for pattern recognition and fingerprinting is mostly automated. Forensic crime labs, also, use other forms of fingerprinting. DNA printing, which relies on an individual's personal genetic pattern, has proved to be a considerable advance in law enforcement. Individuals have been arrested, jailed and also released based off of DNA evidence.