Ottmar Mergenthaler

Ottmar Mergenthaler

[mur-guhn-thaw-ler; Ger. mer-guhn-tah-luhr]
Mergenthaler, Ottmar, 1854-99, American inventor of the Linotype (see printing). Mergenthaler was born in Germany. He emigrated to the United States in 1872 and was employed to inspect and repair clocks in the government buildings in Washington, D.C. After 1876 he lived in Baltimore, where he perfected his linotype, first patented in 1884 and put into operation in 1886 in the office of the New York Tribune. The machine revolutionized the publishing industry by allowing lines of metal type to be set from a keyboard similar to a typewriter instead of each piece of type being set by hand.
Ottmar Mergenthaler (May 11, 1854October 28, 1899) was a German inventor, who has been called a second Gutenberg because his invention of a machine that could easily and quickly set movable type. This machine revolutionized the art of printing. Prior to Mergenthaler's invention of the linotype in 1884, no newspaper in the world had more than eight pages.

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.

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