Gutenberg the inventor and blacksmith master of German origin who developed the world's first mechanical movable type printing press, is considered a revolutionary who marked modern history.

Something that is undeniable, because his incredible invention, the metallic movable type printing press, allowed the knowledge contained in books to be accessible and available for the first time to many people.

Meeting Gutenberg

Johannes Gutenberg was born between the years 1394 and 1404 in Mainz, a city in Germany. As there are not enough data or records of the day he was born, June 24, 1400 was chosen as his birth anniversary, representing a purely symbolic date.

He was the second son of a total of three, from the marriage made up of Friele Gensfleisch zur Laden and his second wife, Else Wyrich, descendant of a family of the German noble classes and dedicated to commerce.

At the time, it was common for a person's last name from the house or property where they lived to be used instead of their father's, so a citizen's legal last name, as reflected in court documents, could change over time as you move. It is known that when he was a child and an adult, Johannes lived in Gutenberg's house in Mainz.

In 1411, a rebellion of artisans against the aristocrats in Mainz forced more than a hundred families like Gutenberg's to leave, it is believed that he moved with his family to Eltville am Rhein (Altavilla), Germany, where they lived on a farm inherited by his mother.

It is presumed that the German inventor was a goldsmith student at the University of Erfurt, due to the existence of some records that indicate the enrollment of a student named Johannes de Altavilla in 1418. Altavilla is the Latin form of Eltville am Rhein which was by then the boy's home.

On the other hand, it is affirmed that, in full youth, Gutenberg worked with his progenitor in the ecclesiastical mint, holding the position of apprentice goldsmith. One of his great advantages was learning to read and write in German and Latin, the language of the scholars and ecclesiastics of the time.

The next thirteen years of his life were an enigma due to the lack of information, until a letter written by him, in March 1434, indicated that he lived with his mother's relatives in Strasbourg, Germany, perhaps working as a goldsmith for the city militia.

Gutenberg's printing press

Like many other details of his life, little is known about the invention of the movable type printing press. However, by the early 1400s, European goldsmiths dominated printing and woodcutting, one of these goldsmiths being Gutenberg.

He began experimenting with printing during his exile in Strasbourg. At the same time, goldsmiths in France, Belgium, Holland, and Italy were also starting jobs with printing presses.

Around 1439, he invested in a business of polished metal mirrors, with the intention of offering them to pilgrims attending a festival in the German city of Aachen, where the relics of Emperor Charlemagne were exhibited.

Mirrors were believed to capture the invisible holy light emitted by religious relics, but when the event was delayed for over a year by floods, the money already spent to make the mirrors could not be recovered, let alone return.

So to calm investors, it is believed that Gutenberg assured them that he would tell them a secret that would make them wealthy. Historians assume that this secret was the design of the printing press, using movable metal type.

In 1440, when he was still living in Strasbourg, he revealed the secret of his printing in a book curiously titled Aventur und Kunst : business and art.It is not known if he had actually attempted or succeeded in movable type printing at the time

Around 1448, Gutenberg returns to the city of Mainz, where, using a loan he generously received from his brother-in-law Arnold Gelthus, he began to set up a working printing press. Two years later Gutenberg's first printing press was up and running.

While the printers of the time used movable types, made of blocks of wood or ceramics, Gutenberg invented movable metal types, which will serve as a substitute for those individually hand-carved pieces of wood.

To get his new printing business off the ground, Gutenberg found it necessary to borrow money from a moneylender, Johann Fust. Among the first profitable projects undertaken by the new press was the making of indulgences for the Catholic Church.


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