• Baerli
    Baerli ©HARIBO GmbH & Co. KG
  • Close-up of text AIRBAG on a car dashboard
    Close-up of text AIRBAG on a car dashboard ©iStockphoto (Jaap2)
  • Medicaments
    Medicaments ©iStockphoto (Sverdelov)
  • Tryposonoma forms in blood smear
    Tryposonoma forms in blood smear ©Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Ecoflex® and Ecovio®
    Ecoflex® and Ecovio® ©BASF
  • Showcase of Old German Brewery
    Showcase of Old German Brewery ©Photo Deutsches Museum
  • Benz-patent motor vehicle "Velo"
    Benz-patent motor vehicle "Velo" ©Soteis
  • Realistic looking vector credit card
    Realistic looking vector credit card ©iStockphoto (Anthony Taylor)
  • Konrad Zuse and the first program-controlled calculator
    Konrad Zuse and the first program-controlled calculator ©Photo Deutsches Museum
  • First MP3-player, IFA 1997
    First MP3-player, IFA 1997 ©Deutsches Museum
  • Scanner "Hell Vario-Chromatograph C296"
    Scanner "Hell Vario-Chromatograph C296" ©Deutsches Museum
  • Glider of the Berlin Segelflugverein at the Rhönwettbewerb 1923
    Glider of the Berlin Segelflugverein at the Rhönwettbewerb 1923 ©Deutsches Museum
  • Lighweight multi-functional-helicopter "Messerschmidt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) BO 105"
    Lighweight multi-functional-helicopter "Messerschmidt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) BO 105" ©Deutsches Museum
  • Heinkel Jet Engine
    Heinkel Jet Engine ©Deutsches Museum
  • Graphic depiction of nuclear fission
    Graphic depiction of nuclear fission ©Deutsches Museum
  • Nylon plugs
    Nylon plugs ©iStockphoto (Lucato)
  • Birth control pill
    Birth control pill ©iStockphoto (Meltonmedia)
  • Bones of the hand, photographed by Röntgen using X-ray technology
    Bones of the hand, photographed by Röntgen using X-ray technology ©Deutsches Museum
  • Wristwatch Megarsolar, built in 1993
    Wristwatch Megarsolar, built in 1993 ©Deutsches Museum
  • Grammophone with wooden hopper
    Grammophone with wooden hopper ©Deutsches Museum
  • Letter from Albert Einstein to Ernst Mach
    Letter from Albert Einstein to Ernst Mach ©Deutsches Museum
  • Leica IIIf, Ernst Leitz, first modell with built-in flash
    Leica IIIf, Ernst Leitz, first modell with built-in flash ©Deutsches Museum
  • First Compact-Cassette-Player EL 3301 for music tapes
    First Compact-Cassette-Player EL 3301 for music tapes ©Deutsches Museum
  • Braunsche Röhre with 65 cm diameter, and until then unreached picture clarity
    Braunsche Röhre with 65 cm diameter, and until then unreached picture clarity ©Deutsches Museum
  • TWIN Elevator System
    TWIN Elevator System ©ThyssenKrupp Steel AG
  • Blue Toothpaste on toothbrush on blue background
    Blue Toothpaste on toothbrush on blue background ©iStockphoto (Rtimages)

German Inventions – Ordinary, yet ingenious

Imagine the world without beer – one of the many great German inventions. Aside from the suds, it was Germans behind the discovery of the science of Radiology and the Theory of Relativity. The computer, television, automobile and MP3-format originated in Germany as well. You’ll be surprised to learn how very German the most trivial things in your daily life are. Many of them are on display at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. Brush up on your knowledge of inventions here.
Airbag

1971 l Rocket application for safety

Thirty milliseconds are often decisive. In an accident, the airbag should have opened by then. The idea for the first “air protection” for motor vehicles was already being developed in the 1960s.

However, the compressed air system tested worked too slowly. In 1971, Mercedes-Benz made a technical breakthrough. Triggered by an electronic sensor, a small rocket engine fills the airbag in milliseconds. However, the pressure is so high that restraining straps still have to hold the air pillow. Since the gases produced were soon found to be harmful, the fuel was replaced by a tablet that released only harmless substances as they burned. It, too, had to stand aside for new systems that combine pressure gas and pyrotechnics. Used for the first time in 1981 as optional equipment for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the airbag has now become standard in vehicles around the world. And it has helped save lives ever since.

(Information taken from “German Stars – 50 innovations,” produced by the Federal Foreign Office, the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government, Invest in Germany, and the Goethe Institut.)

Aspirin

The white wonder

Enrico Caruso swore by it as did Thomas Mann. As a jack-of-all-trades, the aspirin tablet relieves pain, lowers fever and inhibits inflammations.

On August 10, 1897, Bayer began its victorious march against pain: Felix Hoffmann synthesized a white powder – acetylsalicylic acid. In addition to relieving pain, pure salicylic acid also causes intense nausea and corrodes the mucous membranes. Hoffmann developed the first pain remedy with a minimum of these side effects. After testing within the company, the sales figures were sensational. The medication became the best-selling preparation on the market. Aspirin is one of the world’s most-favored medications for pain, fever and inflammation. About 12,000 of the 50,000 tons of acetylsalicylic acid produced annually still come from Bayer.

(Information taken from “German Stars – 50 innovations,” produced by the Federal Foreign Office, the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government, Invest in Germany, and the Goethe Institut.)

Automobile

1886 l Karl Benz & Gottlieb Daimler

Finally, freedom of movement! The idea for a vehicle that would permit rapid, independent locomotion came to two German inventors almost simultaneously. In the year 1886, Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler made humankind mobile: with a motor-driven tricycle and a motorized carriage.

At first, Germans were unenthusiastic about the new invention. “Too loud, too fast, too dangerous” was the judgment. Despite that criticism, the automobile conquered the world in the 1920s.

(Information taken from “German Stars – 50 innovations,” produced by the Federal Foreign Office, the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government, Invest in Germany, and the Goethe Institut.)

Bacteriology

1870 | Robert Koch

When herds of livestock were stricken by a dangerous disease throughout Europe in 1870, Robert Koch, a country doctor from Posen, decided to search for the cause.

He saved a large proportion of his money to buy a microscope and examined the animal samples. He soon made a find. Bacteria were the cause of the disease. With this discovery, Koch founded a new branch of science: bacteriology. Whether epidemics or gangrene: the new findings were a call to battle against many infectious diseases and advanced hygiene as the foundation of human health. The discovery of the tuberculosis bacillus in 1882 brought international fame to Robert Koch and drove the scientist to further studies. His commitment to combating epidemics took Koch around the world.

(Information taken from “German Stars – 50 innovations,” produced by the Federal Foreign Office, the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government, Invest in Germany, and the Goethe Institut.)

Beer

1516 | Dukes Wilhelm IV & Ludwig X of Bavaria

Purely a matter of definition. Pitch. Ox bile. Snake root. Thirsty? These are the ingredients that "refined" beer in the middle ages. And even though they made its enjoyment a dangerous adventure, they were quite beneficial.

Sometimes these unusual ingredients made it last longer. And sometimes they increased the intoxicating effect. Aromatic additives also made it easier to sell beer that had gone sour. But it didn’t last long. On April 23, 1516 the Ducal brothers Wilhelm IV and Ludwig X issued a decree known as the “Reinheitsgebot,” or “Purity Law.” This put an end to the adulteration of beer. From then on, only barley (and the malt made from it), hops and water could be used to produce it. The law was advantageous because it not only provided people with a reliable, wholesome beer, but it also secured wheat crops that were used to bake bread. Therefore it is no surprise that it is the oldest food regulation in the world still existing today.

(Information taken from “German Stars – 50 innovations,” produced by the Federal Foreign Office, the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government, Invest in Germany, and the Goethe Institut.)

Chipcard

1969 | J. Dethloff, H. Gröttrup

Pocket-size computer. At the start of the 1960s, large financial service providers were already betting everything on a card made of plastic. However, since neither signature nor magnetic strip met the security requirements of cashless payments, there was soon a call for an intelligent card.

Jürgen Dethloff and Helmut Göttrup listened. In 1968 they applied for a patent for a card with integrated circuitry. In 1977, Dethloff outdid his first invention with the microprocessor card.

In contrast to the memory card, which only has writable and readable data memories, the microprocessor card can be programmed freely. Today, everyday life is inconceivable without the chip card: telephone, credit, debit and patient card – all important data packaged neatly in plastic – which fits into our wallet.

(Information taken from “German Stars – 50 innovations,” produced by the Federal Foreign Office, the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government, Invest in Germany, and the Goethe Institut.)

C-Leg

1997 | Otto Bock Healthcare GmbH

Intelligent way to go. Going down stairs, going for a walk or playing golf: for wearers of purely mechanical, prosthetic legs these movements which were formerly executed without a thought now require some real mental exercise.

Every step has to be thought out. In 1997, Otto Bock HealthCare GmbH presented an innovation at the World Congress of Orthopedics and Rehab Technology, which would make it easier to live with this physical disability in the future: the first completely microprocessor-controlled knee joint facilitates the greatest possible simulation of natural walking. Fifty times per seconds, sensors and microprocessor check the data important for locomotion. The C-leg adapts actively to every situation.

In 2002, the C-leg was honored with the Independent Living Design Award, proving that intelligence and good looks are not mutually exclusive.

(Information taken from “German Stars – 50 innovations,” produced by the Federal Foreign Office, the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government, Invest in Germany, and the Goethe Institut.)