The only significant difference between the paper you print on from your computer and the Chinese paper is the 'filler' we now use to make the paper really smooth. Before printing was invented, knowledge could only be passed on my word of mouth, or by extremely expensive handwritten manuscripts.
Not only was it expensive, but it was slow, and there was no guarantee each copy would be the same.
It was used to spread Confucian knowledge and Buddhist sutras.
Building on this idea, in the Sui Dynasty (581-618AD) there developed the practice of carving text on a wooden board, which was then covered in ink, and then it was printed page by page onto sheets of paper.
But it did not reach Britain until around 1490, when the first known paper mill in England was built in 1490.
Paper reached the Americas in the 16th century, by which time it had become a truly global product.
During the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and Song Dynasty (960-1279) many varieties of paper were developed, including bamboo paper, hemp paper, hide paper and xuan paper.
But in China there are four inventions traditionally referred to as the Four Great Inventions.
But it was an improvement over the materials previously used for writing on, like bone, wood and stone.
The invention of paper as we know it came in China around 105 AD.
It was brought to Japan around 610 AD, and then moved to Vietnam and India at the beginning of the 6th century.
It took a thousand years after its invention for proper paper to reach Europe.