A virtual Hall of Fame recognizing, honoring and celebrating German contributions to the making of America





160th Birthday of a German-American 

Ottmar Mergenthaler

 Inventor of the Linotype Machine


Profile America - Monday, May 12th 


Yesterday honored mothers, but it also was the 160th birthday of a German-American whose name may not be familiar, but whose invention had a profound impact on the reading habits of all Americans, and indeed, the world. 


His name was Ottmar Mergenthaler.


His invention, the linotype - allowed one person to set type for printing by simply pressing keys on a keyboard - bypassing four different operations at much greater speeds. It was first used in 1886 by the New York Tribune and remained in industry use into the 1980s. 


By 1890, about 8.4 million Americans read a daily paper. Now that figure is around 40 million. Printing and related support activities engages over 27,000 establishments in an $82 billion a year business. 


Profile America is in its 17th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.


Sources: Kane's Famous First Facts, 5805

Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970, p. 810






Ottmar Mergenthaler, Inventor


Born: May 11, 1854, Bad Mergentheim, Germany

Died: October 28, 1899, Baltimore, MD


Ottmar Mergenthaler was a German-born inventor who has been called a second Gutenberg because of his invention of the Linotype machine, the first device that could easily and quickly set complete lines of type for use in printing presses



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