Johannes Gutenberg's successful use of his newly invented movable-type printing process established the groundwork for the widespread and commercial mass production of printed books and ushered in a wave of social changes throughout Europe. Printed materials became plentiful and affordable, which helped spread communications and new ideas to significant portions of society that previously had little or no access to them. Gutenberg's printing method enabled books to develop into an economically feasible form of communication and learning that helped bring about cultural, political and academic changes that permanently altered the course of history and the structure of society.
Not much is known about the life of the inventor of the first commercially viable printing press. He was born in Mainz, Germany around 1398 and died there in 1468. In addition to his famous invention, he was an accomplished blacksmith, goldsmith and metal worker. He also invented the oil-based ink that was part of his printing process.
Gutenberg's first press was in operation by 1450, and some historians believe it may have taken him 10 years to bring his conception of the process to its fully functioning realization. In less than 25 years from the time of Gutenberg's first successful book-printing efforts, print shops opened across Europe in influential cities such as London and Paris.