(born May 11, 1854, Hachtel, Württemberg—died Oct. 28, 1899, Baltimore, Md., U.S.) German-U.S. inventor. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1872. While working in a Baltimore machine shop he began experimenting with type molds, and in 1884 he patented the Linotype typesetting machine. The reduced costs achieved by thus speeding up the typesetting process led to a dramatic expansion of all kinds of publishing.
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Mergenthaler was born in Hachtel, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. He was the third son of a school teacher, Johann George Mergenthaler from Hohenacker in Waiblingen. He apprenticed to a watchmaker before moving to Baltimore, Maryland, in 1872. In 1878, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He invented the linotype machine in 1886, a machine that allowed an operator to automatically set metal type, which revolutionized the printing industry. He died of tuberculosis in Baltimore in 1899.
An operational linotype is on display at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, in the museum's print shop. Baltimore’s vocational high school, Mergenthaler Vocational Technical Senior High School, which opened in 1953, is named after him, although is it commonly referred to simply as "MERVO." Mergenthaler Hall on the Homewood campus of the Johns Hopkins University was constructed in 1940-41 with money provided by Eugene and Mrs. Ottmar Mergenthaler, son and widow of Ottmar Mergenthaler.