Innovators through history: Johannes Gutenberg

To mark the launch of the NZ Innovators Awards for 2012, we're celebrating a series of vaunted innovators and inventors throughout time.

Who: Johannes Gutenberg

Johannes Gutenberg

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

What: Mechanical moveable type. Until Gutenberg’s innovation book production was done by handwritten manuscript. The number of medieval scribes on ACC for repetitive strain injuries dropped dramatically after Gutenberg’s invention.

When: 1439

Impact: His introduction of type printing presses started the printing revolution which, in turn, ignited the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment. So, no biggie.

Power, fame, and money? Gutenberg was given a post at the court of the court of Archbishop Adolf of Nassau (Gutenberg’s invention helped the Catholic Church print thousands of profit-making indulgences). This honour included a salary, court outfit, as well as 2,180 litres of grain and 2,000 litres of wine tax-free, thus establishing the link between the publishing and alcohol industries.

Legacy: Just the basis of modern mass communication and education. And an enviable beard.

Gutenberg may not have won the supreme prize at the Innovators Awards, but you could! Enter now at

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