Born in Sorborten, Germany in 1923 Poppl's education was interrupted by war service where he was seriously injured.
He resumed his studies at the Offenbach College of Applied Arts, where he studied calligraphy under Hans Bohn, Erich Fornoff, and Professsor Herbert Post. He went on to continue his studies at the Wiesbaden College of Arts, and he took a lectureship post in 1952, and later became Professor of Type and Typography.
In 1967, Poppl was contracted to the Berthold foundry in Berlin, and in 1977, with the release of Poppl-Pontifex, he received international recognition as a typeface designer. For Berthold Poppl produced a wide range of printing types, and had a close personal relationship with Günter Gerhard Lange, the artistic director. The two men shared a deep mutual respect for each other's professional abilities. Lange was the only person Poppl allowed to make corrections in preparing his type for production.
Poppl received the Berthold's Golden Grid award in 1982 in recognition of the commercial success of his typefaces. He died later that year.