By his discovery, the author of the technology of printing Johann Gutenberg made a real revolution, thanks to which books and knowledge became available to the widest segments of the population of Europe. His invention was one of the main symbols of the New Time.
The exact date of birth of Johann Gutenberg is unknown. Biographies of the inventor refer to it approximately in 1398. Johann Gutenberg belonged to the kind of wealthy citizens of Mainz, who, in the Roman manner, were called patricians. About the boy's childhood, there is also virtually no confirmed data. Nevertheless, as a son from a wealthy family, he, no doubt, received a good urban education.
Medieval Mainz tore apart internal conflicts. Power in it belonged to the patricians, then their opponents artisans. Armed clashes between different social strata were considered a common thing. One of them occurred when Johann Gutenberg was in his youth. Artisans attacked the quarter of the rich and ruined their homes. The pogrom forced the Gutenberg family to emigrate to Strasbourg. Johann did not return to his hometown for a long time, despite the fact that in 1430 the political pendulum swung in the opposite direction, and an amnesty was declared for all the defeated patricians.
After many years of prosperity Gutenberg had to adapt to the new difficult living conditions. Johann's youth passed in poverty. The lack of prosperity has taught him to become independent and hard work. Traditionally, the patricians disdained to engage in crafts, considering such an occupation ignoble. Johann Gutenberg thought otherwise. He got acquainted with the skillful jewelers of Strasbourg and began to learn their business. Having received the appropriate education, the young man began working in a company engaged in polishing precious stones and producing mirrors.
Gradually Johann Gutenberg became more and more famous and eminent master. His first disciples began to appear. History preserved the name of one of these apprentices - Andreas Dritsen. In 1435 Gutenberg signed a contract with the student and established a joint venture with him. By this time, historians refer to the appearance of the idea of printing, which burned Strasbourg jeweler. Throughout his life, he tried not to publicize the secrets of this art. That is why, even when signing a contract with Dritsen, Gutenberg did not directly say that their company will print books. A regular workshop for the production of mirrors was publicly created.
Creating a letter
The revolutionary printing press of Johann Gutenberg did not appear overnight. At first he thought up to represent letters on wooden posts and to connect the resulting letters into a convenient set. Today, this idea seems simple and obvious. However, for the Middle Ages it was a great breakthrough.
In 1438, the Aachen Fair, where Gutenberg's workshop sold most of its mirrors, was postponed for two years. The inventor took advantage of the free time to continue working on his secret machine.
On the way to discovery
The epoch-making invention of printing by Johann Gutenberg was delayed somewhat due to the death of his pupil and partner Andreas Dritsen. The workshop fell apart. Moreover, the heirs of Dritsen were sued by Gutenberg. The drawn-out process distracted the inventor from the work of his entire life. The court examined the dispute over the property. The heirs of Andreas required part of the workshop. Therefore, in court papers, mention was made of the press, forms for letters, lead, etc. Nevertheless, Gutenberg managed to keep the secret of an invention not yet ready-made in secret.
In 1439, the jeweler won a lawsuit. After that, he alone plunged into work on the book-printing design. Having created moving letters, Gutenberg was able to move them in countless combinations. The German was indulging in a treasured idea in a working room in a suburban Strasbourg monastery on the banks of the Ile River, until finally he brought the prototype to the working version. Historians attribute this event to the year 1440.
Even after the invention of the letter and the prototype of the machine, Johann Gutenberg's books printed with new technology appeared not immediately. Experimenting, he worked with wooden molds. However, for regular work they were not suitable, as the images of letters quickly deteriorated.
To improve the machine, it was required to continue experiments with other materials. Such research cost a lot of money. Having thrown mirrors and jewelry work, Johann Gutenberg, briefly, remained without serious means. He began looking for creditors, but in Strasbourg no one ventured to invest money in the invention of the inventor. The mistrust of the rich's acquaintances was reinforced by the fact that the father of printing did not disclose all the cards and did not tell in detail about his machine.
Cooperation with Fust
In 1445 Johann Gutenberg, whose biography was again connected with Mainz, finally returned to his native city. Here he hoped for the help of his family. However, for five years the inventor has not progressed in his main enterprise. The theoretical idea of printing was ready, but its implementation was delayed.
In 1450, Gutenberg still smiled luck. He met with wealthy entrepreneur Johann Fust. Delets concluded an agreement with the inventor, under which he gave him a loan of 800 guilders. The amount was issued in parts for several years. Thanks to the capital of Fust, the father of printing has finally perfected his technology.
On loaned money Gutenberg hired several employees, bought paper and paints, rented a spacious room. But most importantly - he cast quality and reliable letters, based on an alloy of several metals. When the printing house began to work in full force, Fus, t as its main owner, realizing the value of unique technology, forbade workers to tell anyone about the secrets of printing. Dialers swore in this merchant, swearing the gospel. Until that moment the books corresponded in monasteries. Manually they multiplied extremely slowly. Monks for a long time refused to believe that books can be printed with the help of Gutenberg's invention, without resorting to diabolical magic.
"Latin grammar" and indulgences
The invention of Gutenberg quickly found a lucrative application. Pope Nicholas V, fearing the Turkish threat, declared the Crusade against the Turks and promised absolution to those who would donate money for the forthcoming war. In 1453, the Ottomans seized Constantinople, and the Germans rushed to massively buy indulgences. It took a huge number of copies of this receipt. Then Gutenberg appeared. On his machine, indulgences were printed with a speed unthinkable for their time. Some copies of this edition have survived and are now owned by museums.
The Gutenberg Bible
Grammar and indulgences were for Gutenberg reconnaissance before the battle. The dream of his whole life was to establish a mass seal of the Bible. Preparation, recruitment and other preliminary work took almost five years. The famous 42-line Bible appeared in 1455. It was published in the form of a two-volume folio (the first part contained 324 sheets, the second contained 317 sheets).
The Bible was called Gutenburg. The capital letters in it were omitted. A hand drawn by a calligrapher. Also there was no familiar page numbering today. This is not surprising, because only just appeared printing. Johann Gutenberg published this Bible on parchment and paper (parchment versions cost more). Nevertheless, the books were immediately sold out.
Recent years and death
The printing house, in which Gutenberg printed his Bible and other immortalized his name books, was closed because of debts to Fust. The inventor could not pay the interest due to the moneylender and lost him in court. Fust became the sole owner of the printing house. He sold books throughout Europe and became fabulously wealthy.
Left with nothing, Gutenberg did not drop his hands. With new partners, he opened another printing house. In it was published a new Latin grammar "Catolicon", as well as a book of the Dominican priest Joagan Balba. In 1465 the publisher acted as a chamberlain for "eternal service" to Archbishop of Mainz and Elector Adolf Nassausky. Since then, Gutenberg forgot about the material adversities and was able to concentrate completely on his favorite business. By that time, the inventor was already an old man. He died in 1468, to his own happiness, finding the beginning success of the technology of printing. Gutenberg was buried in Mainz, but his grave was consigned to oblivion, and its location is unknown today.
The secret technology of the publisher could not remain a secret forever. After the death of the master, his faithful disciples spread the most valuable knowledge throughout Germany, and from there to other countries. Already in modern times the name of the founder of printing caused controversy and doubt among historians. The version of Gutenberg triumphed only in the late 19th century, when its court papers and other documents were found, which confirmed that it was he who first created the typographic machine.