Johannes Gutenberg – Famous For Designing And Building The first Print Press

Johannes Gutenberg
Full nameJohannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg
Place of birthMainz, Germany
Died3 February 1468 
ProfessionsInventor, printer, publisher, and goldsmith
Known forThe invention of the movable-type printing press

Johannes Gutenberg was a German inventor who developed a method of movable type and used it to create one of the Western world’s first major printed books, the “Forty-Two-Line” Bible.

Without Johannes Gutenberg, the world would not have had access to mass-printed books, and it is no surprise that the German is recognized as one of the most significant contributors in the history of the globe.

Gutenberg’s innovation of printing is without a doubt one of the most significant in history since it allowed people to share knowledge that had previously been restricted to a small group of individuals for hundreds of years. Johannes Gutenberg was a unique visionary, but aside from inventing moveable type printing, he also lay the groundwork for printing the Bible, which was undoubtedly one of his greatest achievements.

However, it is also important to remember that Johannes Gutenberg was a man of many talents who began his career as a blacksmith before progressing to being a goldsmith. He was the one who invented the type of ink that would make printing possible and ensure that the books would be readable for a long time, in addition to creating modern printing technology at the time. He created a printing technology that was significantly more advanced than the ancient Chinese had perfected.

By 1438, Johannes Gutenberg had begun experimenting with printing. Gutenberg received financial backing from Johann Fust in 1450, but due to impatience and other causes, Gutenberg lost his business to Fust many years later. The “Forty-Two-Line” Bible, finished no later than 1455, is Gutenberg’s masterwork and the first book ever printed in Europe using moveable type.

Johannes Gutenberg Early Life

Johannes Gutenberg was born in the German city of Mainz in the year 1398 to Friele Gensfleisch zur Laden and Elyse Wyrich. Johannes’ father was a prosperous textile merchant, and he was the family’s youngest son.

There is little information regarding Johannes Gutenberg’s early life, but historians assume that he attended the ‘University of Erfurt’ around 1418.

Due to a violent power struggle between the city’s officials and guilds, Johannes Gutenberg’s family was forced to flee Mainz in 1428. His family had to leave the city and travel to Strasbourg because they were of the upper class.

He began his career in the jewelry sector in Strasbourg, specializing in gem cutting.

Johannes continued to work on his secret, which is thought to be printing technology, while still a goldsmith and was able to secure some funding from three individuals in Strasbourg, and it is widely considered that his decision to sign a contract with them in 1438 was a masterstroke.

Johannes Gutenberg Career

Johannes Gutenberg

Gutenberg stated that the idea for moveable type printing came to him in a flash of light, which he referred to as a ‘ray of light.’ Gutenberg originally revealed the then-groundbreaking concept of printing to his partners in 1440, while he was in Strasbourg.

Between 1444 and 1448, a large section of his life is missing from the record. His brother-in-law gave him a loan to establish his own business, and while it is said to have been for a printing press, it could have also been for his goldsmith business.

Johannes Gutenberg

Gutenberg successfully opened his printing machine in 1450, and it is reported that the very first item printed to test the press’s effectiveness was a poem in German, the particular name of which is unclear. Gutenberg was later able to secure a large loan for his workshop from moneylender Johann Fust.

In 1452, Gutenberg established his workshop, and it was there that he first chose to print the Bible, which he believed would be a successful endeavor. He did, however, have a separate press where he published commonplace publications such as Latin textbooks and Church indulgences.

Gutenberg produced his first copy of the Bible in 1455, which became known as Gutenberg’s Bible. He had originally printed 180 copies, and it didn’t appear to be a profitable endeavor.
Johann Fust, Gutenberg’s main financial sponsor, sued him for misappropriation of funds in 1456, and Gutenberg lost the case. Due to the Bible project, he had run out of money, and the printing workshop was given over to Johann Fust.

Johannes Gutenberg later life and death

In a conflict over control of the city, Archbishop Adolph II attacked Mainz in 1462, and Fust and Gutenberg’s printing shops were destroyed. Many of the city’s typographers emigrated to other regions of Germany and Europe, bringing with them their skills and technology. Gutenberg stayed in Mainz, but he fell into poverty once more. In 1465, the Archbishop bestowed upon him the title of Hofmann (gentleman of the court), which included a stipend and privileges in exchange for his services. Gutenberg continued to print for several more years, but there is little indication of what he really published because he did not sign any of his printings.

Gutenberg’s later years are just as hazy as his early years. He is believed to have gone blind in the last months of his life while still residing in Mainz. On February 3, 1468, he died and was buried at the Franciscan convent’s church in the nearby town of Eltville, Germany.