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Johannes Gutenberg

Johannes GutenbergJohannes Gutenberg Two of the most important inventions in printing were movable metal type, which allowed words and paragraphs to be built up from individual metal blocks with letters on them, and the printing press. In Europe, these were both developed in the 1430s by the German goldsmith and inventor Johannes Gutenberg (1395–1468). Although born and brought up in Mainz, Gutenberg perfected his work on printing in Strasbourg. By 1448, Gutenberg had returned to Mainz, and his printing press was in full operation.


A detail from the Gutenberg BibleA detail from the Gutenberg BibleGutenberg's press allowed books to be printed in large quantities; before his time, each individual book had to be hand-copied. Gutenberg was the first European to use movable type printing, previously invented in China around 1050 AD (although he was unaware of this prior invention). Combining this process with the wooden printing press in around 1439 allowed the mass production of printed books for the first time. It was one of the key inventions in history.

The Gutenberg Bible, also known as the 42-line Bible, was the first major book printed in the West using Gutenberg's movable type process. Just 180 copies were printed.

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