German inventor Johannes Gutenberg (c. 1397–1468) is considered the pioneer of modern printing because he introduced the movable-type printing press around 1450, which was used until the early twentieth century. Gutenberg's press consisted of hand-set characters (letters) of equal height that were printed on handmade paper. The ultimate goal of his invention was to reproduce religious texts without losing their color or beauty in the process. Gutenberg wanted to make these texts available to a wider audience rather than just the clergy and the privileged upper class. His invention helped spread the ideals of the Renaissance (a revival of classical Greek and Roman culture; about 1350–about 1600) throughout Europe.
Gutenberg is most famous for the Gutenberg Bible, also known as the Mazarin Bible and the Forty-Two Line Bible. He never completed this project, however, because Johann Fust (?–1466), the goldsmith who was providing funds, asked for repayment before the book was printed. Unable to meet Fust's demands, Gutenberg gave up the rights to his invention and let Fust finish the Bible. Gutenberg eventually resumed his career as a respected printer, and he remains famous for a project he never actually completed.
Further Information: Fontana, J. M. Mankind's Greatest Invention. Brooklyn, N.Y.: John M. Fontana Publishing, 1964; Fuhrmann, O. W. The Five-Hundredth Anniversary of the Invention of Printing. Chicago, Ill.: Private printing, 1940; Ing, Janet. Johann Gutenberg and His Bible. New York: Typophiles, 1988; "Printing: History and Development." Jones Telecommunications and Multimedia Encyclopedia. [Online] Available http://www.digitalcentury.com/encyclo/update/print.html, October 23, 2000.