Guys, guys, guys… I interrupt this blog to tell you something very important.
This is a very special day in the calendar. Today is the 496 anniversary of the death of Aldus Manutius, aka Teobaldo Mannucci.
You’re probably wondering “What kind of a demon is that?” No kind. Except maybe a publishing demon.
Born in 1449, about 100 km south of Rome, Aldus changed the world forever. Not just by being born, but for rocking out. After studying Greek literature, he became a tutor to some of the great Italian ducal families, but more importantly, he became the leading publisher and printer of the Venetian High Renaissance.
His editions of the Greek and Latin classics were so popular that right away, other printers started ripping off his trademark. Even his motto is full of awesome–“Hasten slowly.” Zen out on that one, my friends.
From there, he proceeded to invent italic type. That’s right, because of Aldus Manutius, I can do this.
But that wasn’t enough for Aldus Manutius. He was just getting started. He was the first typographer to use the semicolon. Oh, semicolons had been around; people had used them in handwriting. Aldus recognized the awesome and ported it to the movable type platform. It was Aldus who established the rules for the semicolon. And in case you don’t know what those are… The semicolon is used to A) separate words of opposed meaning, and B) indicate interdependent statements. (We have more rules for the semicolon now. Those were Aldus’ ones.)
Aldus followed this awesomeness by inventing the paperback book. QUOTED FOR TRUTH.
Aldus wanted to create editions of classics that people could carry around with them. His 1503 catalog includes long, narrow libri portatiles designed for portability as opposed to the heavy tomes destined for libraries. They were much cheaper and they fit in your pocket. If you have ever read a book in public, you have Aldus Manutius to thank. He’s like the Nikolai Tesla of the publishing industry.
So, today, and every February 6, I salute you, Aldus Manutius. Thank you for the awesome.