Johannes Gutenberg Biography
Johannes Gutenberg was an inventor, engraver and printer, creator of one of the inventions that changed the future of humanity: the printing press. Gutenberg was born in Mainz, Germany, in 1397.
His real last name was Gensfleisch. Else, Friele (mother and father) and their brothers, lived in a house called Zum Gutenberg. His family moved to Eltville am Rhein, where his mother had inherited a farm. In the year of 1431 his father died, and two years later his mother also died.
About Gutenberg is not known much until in 1434 when he began to work the silversmith in Strasbourg, where two years later he is interested in perfecting the stature of precious stones. In 1437, inclines his efforts in the elaboration of mirrors. In Strasbourg, Gutenberg founded a goldsmith’s workshop with other partners. In addition to his own techniques in the manufacture of mirrors and lenses, and carving of gems, Gutenberg devoted a large part of his time to researching printing techniques, which he already called “New Art.”
Between 1438 and 1448, Gutenberg, driven by his interest, took money from the workshop’s capital box to continue with the greatest of secrets, his typographical experiments. His partners in the goldsmith business realized the fraud and sued him. It is said that his partners took some printed materials in his time off work by Gutenberg as evidence. The judge noted in his documents that Gutenberg “had bought lead to manufacture pieces that separated and melted.” It was also mentioned that there was an object to press the material.
In 1449, Gutenberg lost his trial and was almost forced to leave Strasbourg and return to Mainz, and in that same year, he was associated with a very wealthy lawyer, Johann Fust, who was interested in Gutenberg’s typographical advances and start working in his workshop. Fust lent Gutenberg some money to finish a printing press. With the financial support of his partner, Gutenberg worked hard on his project, until around 1450 that he completed his invention, the printing of mobile types. Thanks to Gutenberg’s knowledge as a metalworker, they were key to his idea of using steel molds that represented the letters of the alphabet, since these would no longer be broken when the press came on the molds to be printed on the paper. In this way, the problem of the fragility of the old wooden molds was solved.
Gutenberg initiated the edition of the Bible of 42 lines in 1455. The 42-line Bible, or also known as the Gutenberg Bible, had more than 1,200 pages, divided into two columns of 42 lines each. It is a marvel of typographical beauty: the letters were of a Gothic style, very similar to that of the medieval manuscripts. Currently, in the world, 46 copies of the work are conserved.
In 1455, Gutenberg did not have much money to return the money that Fust had lent him, so the union was over, and Gutenberg saw himself in misery; Even Gutenberg had to reveal the secret of setting up printing presses in order to survive. Fust sued Gutenberg for breaking the clauses of the contract and not having returned the money left over from his project. Fust and his son-in-law Schöffer partnered and published The Gutenberg Bible. The following year they released El Psalterio or Psalmorum Codex.
In 1464, Gutenberg was partially blind, and the powerful elector Adolfo de Nassau, who valued the famous invention, welcomed him into his court and gave him the necessary means so that he could survive worthily until the end of his days.
On February 3, 1468, Johannes Gutenberg died in his hometown, Mainz.
“The printing press is an army of twenty-six lead soldiers with whom you can conquer the world.”