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Who is Johann Gutenberg

Updated on March 21, 2011

Johann Gutenberg (Johann zur Laden zum Gutenberg Gänsfleisch) (Mainz, about 1394 to 1399 - Mainz, February 3, 1468) was an inventor, German printer and goldsmith, inventor of movable type printing in Europe.


Johann Gutenberg was born in Mainz, which now houses a museum in his honor, the merchant Friel (Friedrich) Gänsfleisch zur Laden, born around 1350 and the city of Mainz since 1372, and Wyrich Else, who had married his second wife in 1386. We do not know the exact date of the birth of Johann, but in 1420 is cited as an adult in a document. Scholars have therefore placed the birth between 1393 and 1403 (as a symbolic date for the birth of Johann Gutenberg, has been taken 1400). The name "zum Gutenberg" is derived from the building "Hof zum Gutenberg" (now in Christophstraße, 2) when the family moved. Gänsfleisch I were one of the noble families of the city, devoted to metal working and coinage. Gutenberg decided to move in 1430 for political reasons, in Strasbourg where he worked as an apprentice goldsmith and, in particular, dealt with the minting of coins.

Around 1448 he returned Gutenberg in Mainz, where in 1450 formed a Societas with the banker Johann Fust, who helped with 1600 guilders (or guilders), and the engraver Peter Schöffer (or Schäffer), in order to print the so-called "Bible 42 lines "on the basis of the Vulgate. In 1450, Gutenberg's experiments were well under way he was able to proceed to the composition and printing is a cut that large book. The Bible project was completed February 23, 1455 at the "Hof zum Humbrecht (today Schustergasse, 18) and the book went on sale in Frankfurt. The edition (with a circulation of 180 copies) sparked immediate enthusiasm for its quality.

Fust A, however, not so much interested in making money than producing a masterpiece. The fruits of his investment were slow in coming. The relations between the two partners became tense and in 1455 - just when the Bibles were completed - Fust demanded repayment of the loan. Gutenberg was not able to recover the funds lost and the process that followed. Was forced to yield to Fust at least part of the equipment for printing and typography for the Bibles. Fust opened his print shop, along with Peter Schöffer, capable worker Gutenberg. Their company, Fust and Schöffer, picked the fruits of the good name he had made and became the first Gutenberg printing commercially viable in the world. The company Schöffer Fust and printed in 1457 edition of the Book of Psalms.

This presents new types in two heights and two colors of printing initials. Gutenberg tried to continue his work opening another print shop. Some scholars attribute to other printed material dating from the fifteenth century. However, no published work reached its magnificence and splendor of the Bible of 42 lines. Gutenberg in 1462 suffered another blow. As a result of power struggles within the Catholic hierarchy, Mainz was burned and looted. Gutenberg lost his workshop for the second time. He died six years later, in February 1468.

The invention of Gutenberg

The printing press, modeled on the Rhine wine press of the tenants.

Founded in the repetition, or the letters engraved in relief on the various punches, were engraved on a metal plate (usually brass), so impressed is a hollow matrix from which they could obtain, with appropriate sagging, typefaces in quantity , size and desired quality.

The ink for movable type, with chemical qualities appropriate to the characters in the metal.



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