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Johann Gutenberg

Generally regarded as the inventor of printing, in Mainz, Germany, in the 1440s. In fact it is likely his actual invention was limited to the brass moulds and matrices to produce lead type accurately in large quantities. (Laurens Koster in Haarlem probably made moveable type somewhat earlier.) Gutenberg brought together many existing technologies in the form of the screw press, wood-engraving, and punchcutting already used in many aspects of metal-working. His mission, like all the very early printers, was to emulate the writing of contemporary scribes. In 1449 he borrowed 800 guilders from a lawyer, Johann Fust, but had to borrow the same sum again in 1452 to continue with his preparations, whereupon Fust became a business partner. Gutenberg’s great work, the 42-line Bible (the number of lines per page) was completed around 1455. At this point Fust was still owed money, and it seems he effectively made Gutenberg bankrupt by foreclosing on the debt. He took over the business, removed Gutenberg, but kept on the foreman Peter Schoeffer as his partner. Together they went on to produce several fine works, and Mainz became known throughout Europe as the origin of printing.