Five German Inventors Who Changed the World

german inventors röntgen brandenburg

German Inventors

Coffee filter, baking powder, water wings or the (Levi) jeans – the wealth of ideas of German inventors is enormous. The problem is just: not many people know. Some German inventors even changed the world with their ideas and struggle to translate their visions into action.

Karl Benz: Car

Karl Friedrich Michael Benz was born on November 25 1844 in Mühlburg. He was a German automotive engineer who developed the first gasoline-powered car (1885) and founded the company Benz & Cie. Rheinische Gasmotorenfabrik in Mannheim (1883), which was launched in 1926 as Daimler-Benz AG.

Benz was the first person in the world, who received a drivers license. One of his most famous quotations: “I was as proud as a king, that the dream of my youth was finally realized.”

Johnnes Gutenberg: Letterpress

Johannes Gutenberg (Johannes Gensfleisch) was born in 1400 in Mainz in Kurmainz. He was a German book printer who – in the middle of the fifteenth century – invented the printing of books with mobile metal-climbing as well as the printing press in Europe, and revolutionized the world with the introduction of the book as a mass product.

The basic idea behind Gutenberg’s invention was the decomposition of the text into all its individual elements, such as small and uppercase letters, punctuation marks, ligatures and abbreviations, which were customary in the tradition of the mediaeval writers. These elements were poured as page-oriented letters in any number, finally combined into words, lines and pages. The prototype for each letter was the stamp. The sign was cut into the end of a steel pencil, resulting in a precise relief on the sides. The respective plunger, the male part, was then “plunged” into a rectangular block of softer metal, usually copper, perpendicularly with the impact of a hammer. The resulting die had to be reworked and straightened, resulting in a right-angled cube with straight sides.

Wilhelm Röntgen: X-ray Image

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was born in Lennep (today to Remscheid) on March 27 1845. He was a German physicist, a discoverer of the X-rays, and the first bearer of the Nobel Prize in physics in 1901 “as a recognition of the extraordinary merit, which he acquired by the discovery of the rays named after him.”

One of his most famous quotations: “Inventions and discoveries belong to the general public and shouldnt be reserved by patents, license agreements and as a belonging of individual undertakings.”

Konrad Zuse: Digital Computer

Konrad Zuse (Konrad Ernst Otto Zuse) was born on June 22, 1910 in Berlin. He was a German computer pioneer and entrepreneur, developer of the world’s first digital computer “Z3” (1941) and inventor of the first high-level programming language (Plankalkül). Today, he is almost universally recognized as the creator of this first freely programmable computer in binary switching technology and floating-point calculation, which really worked. The Z3 was what we call a computer today.

Karlheinz Brandenburg: mp3 Format

Karlheinz Brandenburg was born on June 20 1954 in Erlangen. He is a German electrical engineer and one of the most important developers of the MP3 file format used today for the compression of audio data. In 1987, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits in Erlangen developed a procedure that allowed a music file to shrink to a fraction of its size without audible quality losses. In only a few years, the mp3 format revolutionized the music industry. Because of the invention, today hundreds of albums fit on every smartphone.

Featured image (cropped): Karlheinz BrandenburgChristliches Medienmagazin pro flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0/ Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen – NFejza Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 3.0
March 5, 2017
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