Johann Gutenberg died in Mainz, Germany in 1468. Ironically, the inventor of the most important invention in history never profited from his invention and died in poverty… though the proceeds from the sale of just one single leaf from his Bible in today’s market would have provided Gutenberg with enough money to live out his last years comfortably. He was buried in a Franciscan church, which was demolished and replaced with another church, which was also subsequently demolished. While Gutenberg sadly went without reward for producing the machine that changed the world, history recognizes him as holding this honor. Without his invention, the Protestant Reformation would not have been possible.
Although Gutenberg was financially unsuccessful in his lifetime, the printing technologies spread quickly, and news and books began to travel across Europe much faster than before. It fed the growing Renaissance, and since it greatly facilitated scientific publishing, it was a major catalyst for the later scientific revolution.
Gutenberg used borrowed funds for the printing of his Bible project. Gutenberg was sued by his lender and ended up virtually bankrupt. The man who sued Gutenberg then became the first European shop to print their name on the books that they made with the press.
Gutenberg revolutionized the distribution of knowledge by making it possible to produce a large number of copies of a single work in a relatively short amount of time. His contemporaries called it "the art of multiplying books." The process soon spread to other German cities in the 1450s, to Italy in the 1460s, and then to France and the rest of Europe. By the end of the fifteenth century, hundreds of book titles were being produced each year on wooden presses much like Gutenberg's. The design of such presses stayed remarkably similar for centuries, although the iron handpresses developed around 1800 were sturdier and more efficient than the wooden ones. Today, automated machine presses produce almost all of our printed materials
Gutenberg's technique of making movable type remains unclear. In the following decades, punches and copper matrices became standardized in the rapidly disseminating printing presses across Europe. Whether Gutenberg used this sophisticated technique or a somewhat primitive version has been the subject of considerable debate.
The Gutenberg Bible is the first great book printed in Western Europe from movable metal type. It is therefore a monument that marks a turning point in the art of bookmaking and consequently in the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern world.
Gutenberg's role in the invention of the printing press might have been lost to history if it weren't for a court case in 1439. He had arranged to sell his printing technology to three Strasbourg men, Hans Riffe, Andres Heilmann and Andres Dritzehen. They kept the press secret, to prevent competition. Something went wrong, and they sued Gutenberg. He lost the lawsuit and, 9 years later, returned to Mainz, where he looked for someone else to finance his experiments. In Mainz, a businessman named Johann Fust decided to help Gutenberg to invent the printing press. With a working press, they could print a book!
In Mainz, a businessman named Johann Fust decided to help Gutenberg to invent the printing press.
By the middle of the 15th century several print masters were on the verge of perfecting the techniques of printing with movable metal type. Gutenberg devised an alloy of lead, tin and antinomy that would melt at low temperature, cast well in the die, and be durable in the press. It was then possible to use and reuse the separate pieces of type, as long as the metal in which they were cast did not wear down, simply by arranging them in the desired order. The immediate effect of the printing press was to multiply the output and cut the costs of books. It thus made information available to a much larger segment of the population who were, of course, eager for information of any variety.
Gutenberg's father was a man of good family. Very likely the boy was taught to read. But the books from which he learned were not like ours; they were written by hand. While Gutenberg was growing up a new way of making books came into use, which was a great deal better than copying by hand. It was what is called block-printing. Gutenberg enjoyed reading the manuscripts and block books that his parents and their wealthy friends had; and he often said it was a pity that only rich people could own books. Finally he determined to contrive some easy and quick way of printing. Gutenberg did a great deal of his work in secret, for he thought it was much better that his neighbors should know nothing of what he was doing. He looked for a workshop where no one would be likely to find him. Gutenberg was now living in Strasburg, and there was in that city a ruined old building where, long before his time, a number of monks had lived. There was one room of the building which needed only a little repairing to make it fit to be used. So Gutenberg got the right to repair that room and use it as his workshop.
Johannes Gutenberg was born 1398 in Mainz, Germany. 1439 - 1440, Johannes Gutenberg was credited as being the first European to use a printing press with movable type. The printing press he had developed, which was based on existing screw presses used to press cloth and grapes, was the first of its kind in Europe.