Actually, it turns out not to be the case that Gutenberg lost his business to Johannes Fust, his investor (I, too, thought it was, based on many narratives). In 2008, German legal historian Hans-Michael Empell analyzed the legal documents from the proceeding of Fust against Gutenberg in his book Gutenberg vor Gericht: Der MainzerProzess um die erste gedruckte Bibel and found that Gutenberg by no means lost. This was just a step in the dissolution of their partnership: an accounting of amounts owed. Gutenberg ended up with a press (at least) and fonts and tools (which were later inherited by his next business partner, Dr. Konrad Humery), and continued in business (though there remains debate about whether he or others printed certain works, especially the Catholicon).

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Blogger & prof at CUNY’s Newmark J-school; author of Geeks Bearing Gifts, Public Parts, What Would Google Do?, Gutenberg the Geek

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