Author of the picture: Thomas Roessing

Mainz, Germany, c. 1398-Mainz, Germany, February 3, 1468

Born Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg, he was the man that introduced the era of mass communication and his invention of the modern printer has been considered one of the most important historic events of society.

He studied metallurgy and practiced the goldsmith craft, creating metal mirrors that he sold to religious pilgrims.  While he worked, he developed ideas for a new type of printing that would reduce the processing time of books.

With the help of financial loans, Gutenberg created molds for all of the letters and then filled them with molten lead alloy, creating the first movable “type” printing.  Assembled in the correct order, they could be pressed against parchment without affecting typing errors.

His main work after mechanical movable type printing was the 42-line Bible or Gutenberg Bible, of high quality in terms of technique and aesthetics.  Also, he invented an ink made from oil, copper and lead which was very durable and allowed the letters to remain bright for up to 500 years after being printed.

Gutenberg’s printing press started the mass production of books, reduced the processing and delivery times, allowed for better access to literacy and democratized the knowledge previously closed off to the lower strata in society.  His invention quickly spread across all of Europe and then to the rest of the world.