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[Johannes]

(b Mainz, c. 1394–99; d Mainz, 1468).

German printer. Trained as a goldsmith, he left Mainz for Strasbourg c. 1428 as a political exile. A lawsuit of 1439 indicates that while in Strasbourg he began experimenting with printing techniques. Gutenberg was back in Mainz on 17 October 1448 and by 1450 had begun a commercial printing venture employing his inventions of movable metal type cast in separate letters and a type-casting machine (see Printing). He was financed by a lawyer, Johannes Fust (d 1466), who also became his partner. Gutenberg’s principal developments were the use of individual letters in raised type, which were manufactured in metal instead of wood, thus increasing the durability and clarity of the printed image, and the employment of a pressure press in the printing process. His 42-line Bible, set up during 1452–3, was published before 24 August 1456. It was a lectern book, in two volumes, comprising 1286 pages and was the first full-length ...