The TOP 40 German Inventions

Germans have invented many things we couldn’t live without anymore. We’ve limited a very long list to our personal “TOP 40 Inventions, Discoveries and Breakthroughs”. We hope not to have missed the one invention that has completely changed your life.
  • Adidas – The Shoes with the Three Stripes © Pexels, Athul Adhu
    Adidas – The Shoes with the Three Stripes

    Adidas is the second largest sportswear manufacturer worldwide and was named after its founder, Adolf (Adi) Dassler. Adolf started producing shoes in the 1920s in Herzogenaurach near Nuremberg with the help of his brother Rudolf, who later formed the rival shoe company Puma.
  • Airbag – Safety First © Pexels, Erik MClean
    Airbag – Safety First

    Used for the first time in 1981 as optional equipment for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the airbag has now become standard. And it has been helping to save lives ever since.
  • Aspirin – The White Wonder © A. Baran
    Aspirin – The White Wonder

    In 1897, the company Bayer developed the first pain remedy with minimal side effects. Aspirin is one of the world’s most-favored medications for pain, fever and inflammation. About 12,000 of the 50,000 tons of Aspirin produced annually still come from Bayer.
  • Automobile – The Freedom of Movement © Gabriel Sollmann / Unsplash
    Automobile – The 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.
  • Bacteriology – Mega Success in the Micro World © CDC / Unsplash
    Bacteriology – Mega Success in the Micro World

    When livestock was stricken by a dangerous disease throughout Europe in 1870, Robert Koch discovered that bacteria were the cause of the disease. He was also able to isolate the bacillus that causes tuberculosis. With these discoveries, Koch founded a new branch of science: bacteriology.
  • Beer - Purely a Matter of Definition © Pexels, Engin Akyurt
    Beer - Purely a Matter of Definition

    Ox bile and snake root were some of the ingredients used to make beer in the middle ages. In 1516, the brothers Wilhelm IV and Ludwig X issued the “Purity Law.” From then on, only barley (and the malt made from it), hops and water could be used to produce beer, now a “healthy” drink.
  • Bicycle – The Wooden Horse © Egor Myznik / Unsplash
    Bicycle – The Wooden Horse

    The first early versions of the bicycle came about independently. The French “celeripede” (1816) and Baron Karl von Drais’ “Laufmaschine” (1817) were foot-powered wooden devices without pedals.
  • Book Printing – The Art of Reading © Hannes Wolf / Unsplash
    Book Printing – The Art of Reading

    Johannes Gutenberg was a German craftsman and printer who invented the first printing press with movable type in 1450. This invention revolutionized printing, making it simpler and more affordable. Printed materials were made available to the masses for the first time in history.
  • C-Leg - An Intelligent Way to Go © Greg Rosenke / Unsplash
    C-Leg - An Intelligent Way to Go

    In 1997, Otto Bock presented an innovation to the public that would make it easier to live with physical disabilities: the first completely microprocessor-controlled knee joint. This “intelligent” leg prothesis facilitates the greatest possible simulation of natural walking and everyday activities become possible again.
  • Chip Card – The Vest Pocket Computer © Avery Evans / Unsplash
    Chip Card – The Vest Pocket Computer

    Today, everyday life is inconceivable without the chip card: phone card, credit card, patient card – all important data are packaged neatly in plastic. The chip card was developed by Jürgen Dethloff and Helmut Göttrup in 1969. In 1977, Dethloff applied for a patent for the microprocessor card, the so-called smart card, that can be freely programmed thus providing high functionality.
  • Christmas Tree – Oh Tannenbaum © Pixabay
    Christmas Tree – Oh Tannenbaum

    In 1419, a Christmas tree was mentioned in a written document for the first time. This tree was decorated with candy and pastry and set up by bakers in Germany’s Southwest. The tradition to set up such a decorated tree at Christmas time spread throughout Germany and the whole world. Emigrants brought the Christmas tree to America, and in 1889 the first Christmas tree was set up in the White House.
  • Computer - And or Not © Pixabay
    Computer - And or Not

    Equipped with three logical circuits and 2,600 relays, the first fully functional, programmable computer was used in 1941. The inventor of the electro-mechanical, binary calculator Z3, Konrad Zuse, was a construction engineer from Berlin who hated doing math.
  • Contact Lenses – Not Your Ordinary Eyeglasses © Jake Weirick / Unsplash
    Contact Lenses – Not Your Ordinary Eyeglasses

    Contact lenses were invented and made in 1887 by the German physiologist Adolf Eugen Fick. He first fitted animals with the lenses, and later made them for people. These lenses were made from heavy brown glass and were 18-21mm in diameter.
  • Glider – Learning from Sparrows and Doves © Otto-Lilienthal-Museum
    Glider – Learning from Sparrows and Doves

    Thanks to his ground-breaking research on artificial wings and his skilled craftsmanship, Otto Lilienthal became in 1894 the first flyer in the history of mankind with his glider. In 1896, he died tragically during a test flight. His wing designs were closely studied by the Wright brothers in the USA and lead to their development of the motorized airplane.
  • Gummi Bear – A Cult You Can Sink Your Teeth In © Jonathan J Castell / Unsplash
    Gummi Bear – A Cult You Can Sink Your Teeth In

    A sweet, colorful, tiny little bear in the palm of your hand. You pick it up to your mouth, and bite its little head off. The gummy bear. One of Germany’s most popular sweets was created in 1922 by Hans Riegel. He was born in Bonn, and opened a candy company called HARIBO, an acronym based on the letters of his name: HAns RIegel of Bonn.
  • Helicopter – Acrobat Of the Air © Ibrahim Rifath / Unsplash
    Helicopter – Acrobat Of the Air

    The engineer Heinrich Focke began working on helicopters in the 1930s. He performed research on the problems of control of rotary winged flight and built a scale model helicopter in 1932. But four years passed before he was to demonstrate his first fully controllable helicopter in Berlin in 1936.
  • Jeans – Forever Young © Mnz / Unsplash
    Jeans – Forever Young

    Levi Strauss was trained as a tailor in Bavaria before joining the California gold rush. Here he ran into prospectors and miners who complained about easily torn pants. In 1873, Strauss patented his idea of using copper rivets at the stress points of sturdy work pants. The Levi’s Jeans were born.
  • Jet Engine - An Aviation Hero to Look up To © Call me Fred / Unsplash
    Jet Engine - An Aviation Hero to Look up To

    The physicist Hans von Ohain was one of the inventors of jet propulsion. In 1933, he designed the first self-contained jet engine to run and later the first to power an all-jet aircraft. Although none of his designs entered production, his contributions to the development of the jet engine are invaluable.
  • Kindergarten – The American Pre-School © BBC Creative / Unsplash
    Kindergarten – The American Pre-School

    Friedrich Froebel was a German educational reformer who invented the kindergarten ("garden of children"). He opened the first kindergarten in 1837 to protect children from misery at the beginning of industrialization. His kindergartens included pleasant surroundings, self-motivated activity, play, music, and the physical training of the child.
  • Mayonnaise – Where Mayo Came From © Freepik, Racool_studio
    Mayonnaise – Where Mayo Came From

    Mayonnaise was invented in France in 1756. But it was the German immigrant Richard Hellman who in 1905 sold the first ready-made mayonnaise at Richard Hellman’s New York deli. He started selling mayonnaise in large glass bottles because it was easier to sell. This product was marketed as “Hellman’s Blue Ribbon Mayonnaise.”
  • Motorcycle – A Bone Crunching Ride ©
    Motorcycle – A Bone Crunching Ride

    In 1885, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach patented one of the first successful high-speed internal-combustion engines and developed a carburetor that made the use of gasoline as fuel possible. They used their gasoline engines on a bicycle, which was the first motorcycle in the world. This bone-crunching vehicle was powered by a single-cylinder engine.
  • MP3 Format - Compressed Quality © Fixelgraphy / Unsplash
    MP3 Format - Compressed Quality

    Pack your favorite T-shirt, a book and 800 songs: converted to MP3, you can take along an entire music collection. By eliminating all the frequencies that the human ear cannot perceive, the MP3 format shrinks the data volume to one-twelfth its original size. In 1987, researchers at the German Fraunhofer Institute succeeded in compressing audio files to MP3 format for the first time.
  • Nuclear Fission - Energy with Side Effects © Science in HD / Unsplash
    Nuclear Fission - Energy with Side Effects

    In 1938, Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner and Fritz Strassmann became the first to recognize that the uranium atom, when bombarded by neutrons, split. News of the splitting of the atom and the release of tremendous amounts of energy reached the United States and ultimately resulted in the development of the first nuclear bomb. After World War II Hahn became a passionate campaigner against the use of nuclear bombs.
  • Porsche – And the People’s Car © Eric Saunders / Unsplash
    Porsche – And the People’s Car

    Though he and his son founded the high-performance sports car firm that bears the family name, Ferdinand Porsche Sr. is also remembered as the visionary who created the Volkswagen Beetle in the 1930s. Already a renowned automotive designer, Porsche’s dream was to create a small, affordable car for the European mass market.
  • Record Player – More Than a Relic © Pexels, Eric
    Record Player – More Than a Relic

    Today’s youth hardly know them; the 50-year olds mourn them. With the invention of the record player in 1887, Emil Berliner brought music into the living room for more than 100 years. Although Berliner may not be as well known as Thomas Edison, his inventions such as the microphone are equally significant.
  • Refrigerator – A Cool Invention © Latrach Med Jamil / Unsplash
    Refrigerator – A Cool Invention

    Carl von Linde invented the first reliable and efficient compressed-ammonia refrigerator in 1876. The company he established to promote this invention was an international success: refrigeration rapidly displaced ice in food handling and was introduced into many industrial processes.
  • Ritter Sport Chocolate -Chocoholic © Pixabay
    Ritter Sport Chocolate -Chocoholic

    This story starts with the marriage of pastry chef Alfred Ritter and Clara Göttle, owner of a confectionary. The couple founded the chocolate factory Alfred Ritter Cannstatt where in 1932 the famous Ritter Sport chocolate square was born. Clara Ritter had fallen in love with the idea that her chocolate factory should produce a chocolate bar that fits into any sport’s jacket.
  • Scanner - Fragmented Pictures © Pixabay
    Scanner - Fragmented Pictures

    Although little known outside Germany, Rudolf Hell helped to shape the world as we know it. He invented a direction-finder for pilots and the “Hellschreiber”, a precursor of the fax machine. In 1951, he developed the prototype for digital image processing: the Klischograph made it possible to scan images electronically. In 1963 he invented the first scanner for color images.
  • Small Format Camera – No More “Say Cheese” © Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona / Unsplash
    Small Format Camera – No More “Say Cheese”

    In 1925, Oskar Barnack’s pocket camera laid the cornerstone for spontaneous snapshots. Before his invention, photographers used the bulky bellows camera that was way too big to carry around. With Barnack’s new small-format camera, photojournalism was born.
  • Social Legislation - Social Pioneer © Marek Studzinski / Unsplash
    Social Legislation - Social Pioneer

    Germany’s Chancellor Bismarck was convinced that a health, accident, old age and unemployment insurance law could solve many social problems and win the good will of laborers. His Health Insurance Act of 1883 entitled workers to health insurance. Bismarck’s social insurance legislations were the first in the world and became the model for other countries.
  • Steinway – A Kitchen Full of Pianos © Liz Beas / Unsplash
    Steinway – A Kitchen Full of Pianos

    In 1835 Heinrich Engelhardt Steinweg, built his first piano. A year later he made the first grand piano in his kitchen. In 1851, Steinweg emigrated to the United States, where he and four of his sons established their own production company Steinway & Sons in New York. Steinway currently provides more than 95% of the world’s concert halls with their nine-foot long Model D concert grand piano.
  • Trolley – A Streetcar Named “Elektrische” © Alexandr Bormotin / Unsplash
    Trolley – A Streetcar Named “Elektrische”

    On May 16, 1881, the region of Berlin wrote transport history. In the village of Groß-Lichterfelde, Werner von Siemens opened the world’s first electric streetcar. A single trip on the 1-mile long line cost more than an average hourly wage. For some time the German word for streetcar was simply "die Elektrische".
  • Tape Recorder – More Useful Than a Straw © Annie Spratt / Unsplash
    Tape Recorder – More Useful Than a Straw

    If he hadn’t been something of an audiophile, Fritz Pfleumer would be best remembered for inventing the plastic drinking straw. Instead, he’ll always be known as the man who invented the first modern tape recorder. In 1928 he developed a tape by using a band of paper, which was coated with magnetizable metal. His tape extended the length of recordings and provided the basis for perfect recordings.
  • Telephone – The Artificial Ear © Annie Spratt / Unsplash
    Telephone – The Artificial Ear

    Alexander Graham Bell is generally credited as the inventor of the telephone. But it was Phillip Reis, a young science teacher from Germany, who developed the first functioning device in 1860 which he named “Das Phone”. Unfortunately, the Reis telephone was not practical enough to be a commercial success. It could transmit sound, but it was difficult to understand the spoken word.
  • Television - An Eye-Catcher for the Living Room © Francisco Andreotti / Unsplash
    Television - An Eye-Catcher for the Living Room

    In 1931, international headlines announced the development of the "world's first all-electronic television system", designed in Germany by a 24-year-old genius with the grand name of Baron Manfred von Ardenne. Von Ardenne had performed the first public demonstration of his electronic television system at the Berlin Radio Exhibition. In 1935, the first regular television program was broadcast in Germany.
  • Theory of Relativity - The Spirit of the Time Is Relative © Taton Moise / Unsplash
    Theory of Relativity - The Spirit of the Time Is Relative

    Albert Einstein enjoys star status, even though practically no one understands his greatest achievement, the Theory of Relativity. In 1905, he questioned the absoluteness of time and space. Time, he claimed, always depends on the speed of the moving body. Consequently, time measurements are always relative to their system of reference. Einstein’s insight changed the way people all over the world view space and time.
  • Thermos Flask – The New Insulator © Annie Spratt / Unsplash
    Thermos Flask – The New Insulator

    “Keeps it cold, keeps it hot – without fire and without ice.” This advertising slogan for the Thermos flask, which glass engineer Reinhold Burger came up with himself, described the dual benefits of his invention from 1903. In 1909, Burger sold his patent, becoming a wealthy man in the process.
  • Toothpaste - On the Tip of Your Tongue © A. Baran
    Toothpaste - On the Tip of Your Tongue

    The person responsible for healthy teeth is the pharmacist Ottomar von Mayenburg. He experimented in 1907 with tooth powder, mouthwash and ethereal oils. What he came up with was a toothpaste he named Chlorodont. With a little peppermint added for good taste, he filled the paste directly into pliable metal tubes. And we’ve been brushing our teeth regularly after breakfast and before bedtime ever since ;-)
  • X-Ray Technology – A Transparent Procedure © Jonathan Borba / Unsplash
    X-Ray Technology – A Transparent Procedure

    X-rays were discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Konrad von Röntgen. Röntgen was a German physicist who used this new form of radiation to photograph objects that were hidden behind opaque shields. He even photographed part of his own skeleton. X-rays were soon used as an important diagnostic tool in medicine.
  • Zeppelin - Engineer and Soldier © Nicolau Primitiu, Biblioteca Valenciana / Unsplash
    Zeppelin - Engineer and Soldier

    Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin served with the Prussian army and the Union army during the U.S. Civil War. He was also the first large-scale builder of the airships which eventually became synonymous with his name. The first successful trial took place in 1900. In 1908, Zeppelins were making routine commercial mail and passenger flights over Germany, with a remarkable safety record.