Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), or Balai Pustaka as it was originally named, was established on 22 June 1956 in Johor Bahru, Johor as a small department under the Ministry of Education. The purpose of its establishment was to develop Malay as the national language and official language of the country which would soon achieve independence. At the time, DBP carried out its noble work in Bukit Timbalan, Johor Bahru.
Following the 3rd Malay Language and Literature Congress held in Singapore and Johor Bahru on 16-21 September 1956, the government accepted the recommendation of the congress to rename Balai Pustaka as Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. In addition, DBP had its status upgraded as a body with its own board members.
In 1957, DBP moved to Kuala Lumpur and was located in a former hospital ward in Jalan Young. The move facilitated the execution of its duties in accordance with the declaration of Malay as the national and official language of the country.
In 1959, DBP was upgraded to a statutory body through the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Ordinance 1959. This granted DBP autonomous power to: (i) formulate specific policies; (ii) organise language and literature construction and development programmes; and (iii) undertake the publishing and sale of books on a competitive basis according to the principles and practices of business and publishing.
On 31 January 1962, DBP moved to its own building in Jalan Lapangan Terbang Lama (now called Jalan Dewan Bahasa). In 1977, it expanded its presence to East Malaysia with the opening of two offices, one in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and another in Kuching, Sarawak. This was followed by the opening of three DBP offices in the northern region in Bukit Mertajam, Penang (1999), the eastern region in Kota Bharu, Kelantan (1999) and the southern region in Johor Bahru, Johor (2003).
Today, DBP has a new headquarters building. The development project of Menara DBP began in 1997 and was completed in 2003.