Johannes Gensfleish zur Laden, born June 24, 1400, was a German who served as a printer, engraver, and inventor of the mobile type printing press. He was born in Mainz, in the Holy Roman Empire. His parents were Else Wirich and Friele Gensfleush zu Laden.
Gutenberg, the son of a patrician of Mainz, is credited to have started the Printing Revolution of the 15th and 16th centuries. His invention helped increase literacy in Europe and provided a major boost to the middle class.
Among his several inventions is a metal alloy that could melt and cool quickly to form a durable reusable type, a thick oil paint that adheres well to metal type and transfers well to paper, and a new press for applying firm and even pressure to printing surfaces. None of these features existed in the European technique used then for stamping letters on surfaces, hence Gutenberg’s printing press was considered a history-changing invention, making books widely accessible and ushering in an “information revolution.”
A bitter struggle existed between the guilds and the patricians of Mainz, leading to Gutenberg’s exile from the city and his move to Strassburg (now Strasbourg, France). There he engaged in such crafts as gem cutting and he also taught many pupils, partnering with Hans Riffe, Andreas Dritzehn, and Andreas Heilman.
The sudden death of Andreas Dritzehn led the deceased brothers to want to enter Gutenberg’s society or receive financial compensation. Gutenberg’s negative response to the two options led to the case being taken to court. There the judge ruled in favor of Gutenberg, but a little of his secret project was made public, as witnesses to this case talked about the use of lead, a press, cast iron molds, etc. In general, they were materials that the printers knew very well in the Gutenberg workshop. This revealed that Gutenberg had been perfecting an invention, which materialized in 1452 with the creation of the typographic printing press, an invention that he could see being shared around the world.
A family heritage opens the doors to creativity
After many attempts, Gutenberg’s brainchild materializes.
It takes a long time, but Gutenberg manages to write a Bible with pages of 42 lines.
The first book with the name Gutenberg (as editor), the “Mainzer Psalterium Psalter,” is published.
Why We Love Johannes Gutenberg
He is an influential figure in history
Gutenberg’s contribution to humanity is undeniably significant. His invention marked a before and after in humanity.
He opened the doors of modernity
His invention marked the beginning of modernity in Europe. A new era within humanity began, thanks to Gutenberg's creativity.
He was self-taught
The printing press was a failure and an attempt to win. Gutenberg never gave up.
5 Surprising Facts
His invention opened the doors of modernity
The printing press is one of humanity's most important inventions.
Before the Gutenberg Bible
The first book that was printed was a manual for learning Latin.
He is the pioneer of publishing houses
Gutenberg’s invention began a new era in the writing and manufacture of books.
His 42-line bible
It is the most valuable book in the world.
Knighted by the Archbishop of Mainz
After he invented the printing press, Archbishop Adolf of Nassau recognized Gutenberg as the "Hofmann," or Knight of the Court.
Johannes Gutenberg FAQs
Why is Gutenberg's trail lost for four years?
He had to escape from his hometown.
Did Gutenberg invent the bible?
Gutenberg Bible, also called the 42-line Bible or Mazarin Bible, was the first complete book extant in the West and the first printed version of the Bible.
What does it mean to be a court knight?
At the time it was the equivalent of being a nobleman.
Johannes Gutenberg’s birthday dates