Carl Zeiss - A History Of A Most Respected Name In Optics.
From its inception through to the middle 19th century, lens making was a craft
that was essentially passed on from generation to generation. Innovations had
typically resulted from trial and error experimentation; this was a costly and
time consuming process that could not factor in all of the possible variables in
lens making materials and design. It would be left up to one who could employ
scientific methods of study, and then devise the mathematical formulas to
characterize the physics of optics to make the next important technological
leaps possible. It would then be asked of a chemist to invent and manufacture
those raw materials necessary to make the new designs possible. And it would be
one man to bring this combination together to create a concern of unrivaled
Friedrich Zeiss (b.11 Sept. 1816 in Weimar - d.3 Dec. 1888 in Jena) founded the
Carl Zeiss firm at Jena, opened on 17 November 1846 at Neugasse 7, Jena on the
Saale River in the district of Thuringia in Germany for the production of simple
microscopes (in the first year selling about 23 units), measuring instruments,
and other precise optical and mechanical instruments.
In September 1847 Zeiss moved to a larger facility at Wagnergasse 32 and
hired his first apprentice. Among his customers was the University of Jena for
whom he made and repairs scientific equipment. Zeiss began to make improvements
in microscopes, offering simple microscopes and in 1857 introducing the first
compound (which employ an objective and an eyepiece) microscope "Stand
I". In 1861 Zeiss compound microscopes are declared to be "among the
most excellent instruments made in Germany" and he is awarded a Gold medal
at the Thuringian Industrial Exhibition. By 1864 the need to house some 200
employees results in another move of the workshop to a third larger site at
Johannisplatz 10. In 1866 the 1000th microscope is delivered; the Carl Zeiss
shop is recognized throughout European scientific circles for the quality of its
microscopes. Carl Zeiss original workshop has been restored and remains a
subject of attention to visitors to Jena today.
Up to this time,
advances in optical designs and materials relied heavily on inefficient
"trail and error" efforts. Realizing that the improvement of optical
instruments demanded advances in optical theory ("The only remaining
function of the working hand should be that of precisely implementing the forms
and dimensions of all construction elements as determined by the design
computation"), Zeiss engaged as a free-lance research worker Ernst Abbe (b.
23 Jan. 1840 - d. 14 Jan. 1905), a 26 years young lecturer (later Professor) of
Physics and Mathematics at the University of Jena in 1866 who in 1875 became his
partner. Many of those who would become the most successful minds in optics were
taught at the University at Jena, and then employed at the Zeiss Works. Ernst
Abbe was without doubt a most gifted individual whose accomplishments place him
in that rare category of person who can be said to have a profound impact on the
rapid evolution of many optical theories and products. Among his breakthroughs
was the formulation in 1872 of what became known as the "Abbe Sine
Condition"; a theory of microscopic imaging. This made possible the range
of 17 microscope objectives (three of these were of the immersion type) designed
based on mathematical modeling. Abbe said "Based on a precise study of the
materials used, the designs concerned are specified by computation to the last
detail - every curvature, every thickness, every aperture of a lens - so that
any groping around is excluded". In 1881 Zeiss son Roderich would become a
co-partner in the Zeiss concerns.
Otto Schott (b. 17 Dec. 1851 - d. 27 Aug. 1935) was a chemist who gained a
Doctorate at the University of Jena in 1875. On 4 January 1881 Schott met Abbe
who prompted him to employ a scientific approach to the determination of
ingredients to be used in, and the development of manufacturing techniques of
what would become more than 100 new types of optical and industrial glasses.
Zeiss and Abbe relied on Schott for advances that would make Zeiss product
development and improvements possible. Schott's work in his native town of
Witten had in 1881 resulted in products with a degree of purity and uniformity
that up to that time had been unknown. In 1882 he moved to a new glass making
laboratory set up for him in Jena. And in 1884 Schott founded the Schott &
Genossen Glaswerke at Mainz to develop new types of optical and heat resistant
glass, and crystals. This collaboration resulted in the Jena Glass Works of
Schott becoming the prime source of glass and filter materials for Zeiss
This research and development effort bore its first noteworthy fruit in 1886
when Zeiss marketed the first "aphochromate" microscope objectives;
this apochromatic microscope objective offered superior quality. Employing
"fluorspar" elements this was the first use of crystal in an
industrial optical application. Zeiss now employs 250 workmen, and delivers its
10,000th microscope! Carl Zeiss lives to see this breakthrough, but soon after
he dies on 3 December 1888.
Abbe was interested in improving academic and research resources. His efforts
resulted in the establishment of the Institute of Mineralogy at the University
of Jena. Abbe was also interested in social reforms culminating in the formation
in 1889 of the "Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung" (something akin to a foundation)
to operate the various Zeiss concerns, with a mission to ensure the Zeiss firm
follow the social vision of its founders. By 1900, the employment benefits at
Zeiss were uncommonly good in their day; these included an eight-hour work day,
paid holidays, some forms of health benefits, profit-sharing, and a retirement
plan. It is our understanding that one provision of the Stiftung Statutes was
that the top salaries at Zeiss could not exceed that of the foremen by more than
a factor of ten. Such concerns of employees well being was rare at the time, but
it was returned to the company with increased employee loyalty and by attracting
better qualified candidates for employment.
The original constitution of the Stiftung provides that the profits of the
Zeiss firms go to the foundation which, after making grants for scientific
research and cultural activities, distributes the funds back to the firms to
finance growth and employee benefits programs. In 1891 Abbe (and later Roderich
Zeiss) bequeathed his shares in the Zeiss Optical Works factory and the Schott
Glassworks to the "Stiftung". In 1923 Schott also added his stock
shares in the Glass Works to the foundation.
Among the first notable optical accomplishments by the Zeiss works were that
by 1870 Abbe had independently reinvented image erecting Porro prisms (sometimes
referred to as the "Porro-Abbe" design), and by 1873 a prototype
instrument had been completed. However, due to the limitations imposed by
available crown glass at the time Abbe did not proceed much further until later
in his career. The original prism design was developed by an Italian Ignazio
Porro (1801-1875). By 1888 Schott improved the optical characteristics of Crown
glass such that Abbe resurrected an earlier project, by 1893 he had created and
patented (back dated to July 9 at the German Imperial Patent Office) a 8x 20mm
"binocular telescope with increased objective separation". The
significant improvements over then competing designs being that he employed the
improved glass prisms in an air spaced fashion in the form of the now
traditional Porro binocular permitting a wider separation of the doublet
objective lenses thereby resulting in markedly improved depth perception. This
patent remained in force until 1908. The mass production of prism binoculars by
Zeiss then began in 1894.
In 1986 Abbe met Horatio S. Greenough, an American biologist. Greenough drew
out a sketch of a promising concept for Abbe; by the end of 1897 the first
stereomicroscope ever made is completed at Zeiss providing true three
By the end of the century Zeiss had negotiated limited partnerships with
overseas companies including "Bausch and Lomb" of Rochester, N.Y., an
American firm to make complementary products, or Zeiss products under license.
Sometimes having a product made within the country where it would be sold could
bypass expensive tariffs; for example the U.S. federal government relied mostly
on income from import tariffs prior to the introduction of the "Income
Tax" in 1913.
By 1900 Zeiss employs 1070 people. In 1903 Abbe retired from active
management due to ill health, he would die on 14 January 1905 and was succeeded
by Prof. Dr. Siegfried Czapski.
On 24 June 1904 the issuing certificate for a new Zeiss trademark was issued;
this logo was fashioned with "Carl Zeiss" within in the border of an
achromatic doublet lens outline designed by a consultant Erich Kuithan (b. 1875,
d 1917). Kuithan was an accomplished artist and designer residing in Jena since
1903. This trademark was to become world famous and remained in use throughout
World War II. It remained the corporate trademark employed by Zeiss Jena (with
some protest from the West German Zeiss) until the reunification of Germany and
the Zeiss companies in the 1991.
By World War I, Zeiss had established the "Carl Zeiss, Jena Optische
Werkstaette" with marketing branches in Berlin, Frankfurt, Vienna, London,
and Hamburg with other sales agents around the world. Other firms offered Zeiss
products including: Eastman Kodak who manufactured a Zeiss "Anastigmat"
lens under license for its cameras; and Ross Ltd. of London. From shortly before
World War I, up to World War II the Carl Zeiss firm established subsidiaries in
European countries to produce optics; some of these (particularly between the
wars) produced military optics which might have aroused international concern.
It is not unusual to find the traditional Zeiss trademark with the city of
origin listed ("Petersburg" Russia for example in place of Jena on the
logo, or "Zeiss Nedinsco") as being outside of Germany. It is ironic
that the systems manufactured by subsidiaries in European countries might have
then been employed to equip the Wehrmacht and SS armies that would later occupy
Franz A. Meyer (b. June 6, 1868 Hamburg - d. May 29, 1933 at Jena) became the
first college educated engineer employed at the Optical Workshops at Jena; a
person of his qualifications was deemed necessary by Abbe for the design and
construction of large astronomical instruments although he played part in many
other areas of production at Jena.
By 1904 Zeiss had developed and manufactured the "stereocomparator";
an instrument that would permit the measurement of relative distances, and
reveal changes within a star field by comparing one image against another
simultaneously. This tool would become invaluable for the discovery of many
celestial wonders including asteroids, comets, and another notable achievement:
the discovery of Pluto by Clyde Tombaugh.
Among the areas of prominent growth in the sciences was the field of
astronomy; demand for larger and more complicated telescopes and mountings could
be met only by a firm with well integrated resources. Among the areas that Zeiss
pioneered and dominated before World War II was the development of planetarium
instruments - even though these were never really a profit center for Zeiss, it
was a matter of social responsibility and corporate pride that caused Zeiss to
continue production. A concept put forward in 1913 by Dr. Max Wolf, Director of
the Heidelberg Observatory. The device was patented by Zeiss in 1922, and their
first planetarium instrument (in the world) was placed into public service in 21
October 1923 at the new German Museum at Munich. A planetarium instrument is
housed in the center of a room with a hemispherically domed ceiling; the
instrument projects points of light to the ceiling to simulate the night sky
from various perspectives (seasonal, or historical views of the Earth-sky
relationship). This instrument is single handedly responsible for motivating
many young people to explore and understand astronomy and celestial navigation.
Even after World War II both Zeiss companies would establish planetarium
production at their headquarters, and their domes would figure prominently in
the skyline of their factories.
Before the turn of the century in order to facilitate cabling information and
the placing of orders, most common Zeiss products bore code names which clearly
identified the product. By 1902 Carl Zeiss was pioneering new advances with
camera lenses, introducing names that remain respected today by the modern
descendants such as the "Tessar", a lens introduced in 1902 which was
marketed as the "eagle's eye". Giant 60mm, 80mm and even 110mm
aperture binoculars introduced for the consumer market in the 1920's bore the
names "Starmorbi", "Asembi", "Asenglar". A
particular 80mm telescope with an alt-azimuth stand, fitted wood storage case,
and accessories might carry the name "Asestaron", while the same
telescope on another mount would bear another name.
After considering the efficiency in low light applications of visual optics
producing a 7mm diameter exit pupil, Zeiss introduced the first 7x 50mm
binoculars in 1910. This formula remains the world standard for marine and
astronomy uses. By 1914 Zeiss had introduced the 7x50 "Binoctar"
binocular which was to become the model in terms of optical arrangement, and
external appearance for generations of marine and low light binoculars to come.
Carl Zeiss employed a number of persons whose names have become familiar to
those who use optical instruments. Albert Koenig and his team are known for
designs of telescopic objectives, oculars, and other optical devices. Heinrich
Erfle (b. 1884 - d. 1923) who in 1917 Patented a practical design for a wide
angle ocular that since 1918 has appeared in many binoculars, and telescopes.
In 1908 Carl Zeiss placed responsibility for the design of a revolutionary
prescription spectacle lens in the hands of scientist Moritz von Rohr (b. 1868 -
d. 1940). The result was that in 1909 Punktal lenses were patented. And
in 1912 the Punktal spectacle lenses were introduced to the market. For the
first time identical visual quality over a large field of view.
Possibly to avoid past or future legal litigation, after World War I Carl
Zeiss Jena established a distributor in New York "Bennett & Co."
at 155 West 23rd Street, New York City operated by a Carl Zeiss Jena employee.
In December, 1925 this organization was incorporated as "Carl Zeiss,
Inc." at 485 - 5th Avenue, N.Y., N.Y. Regional representative agent offices
were then established in Chicago, and Los Angeles. Interestingly enough Carl
Zeiss Inc. continued doing business in New York throughout World War II; after
December 1941 selling all remaining imported merchandise and providing service
as possible, and eventually becoming involved with the manufacture of products.
Throughout this time it remained under the management of Dr. Karl Bauer, the
corporations' first president and a citizen of Germany.
The growing production capability at Jena continued into diverse areas
including manufacture of automobile acetylene (by 1921 electrical) headlights
beginning in 1911 which were ground of crystal glass with a silver plated
parabolic reflector. By October of 1912 this was incorporated into "The
Auto Department". Shortly after World War I the demand for these components
increased growing to between 1927 and 1929 with production expanding into
related areas of spot lamps, and fog light head lamps. But, by 1933 Zeiss sales
had declined to insignificance as may other companies entered the market, at
times with improved designs, and at far lower prices.
By 1913 Dr. Hans Lehmann at the Ernemann Werke at Dresden prototyped a very
high speed movie camera (marketed by the Instrument Department of Zeiss Ikon as
the "Zeitlupe") that produced images that when played back on a
conventional projector, it allowed the study of motion. The original hand driven
commercial camera operated at about 300 frames per second but, with improvements
over the years Zeiss eventually produced cameras capable of many thousands of
images per second. By 1926 the Ernemann Werke in Dresden was acquired fully by
Zeiss Ikon. Zeiss Ikon would grow to also include the Ica factory in Dresden,
two Goerz factories in Berlin (which also made searchlights, medical
instruments), and the Contessa Werke in Stuttgart.
By 1923 Carl Zeiss Jena manpower was up to about 5000 employees. And in spite
of the worldwide economic recession and depression of the 1920's the Zeiss
company continued to grow.
In 1849 Moritz Carl Hensoldt (b. 1821 - d 1903) and his brother-in-law Carl
Kellner (known best for his eyepiece design) began a business for the
fabrication of telescopes. By 1850 Hensoldt formed his own company "M.
Hensoldt & Soehne AG" for the manufacture of optical instruments. By
1928, the Hensoldt company with its factory in Wetzlar had the Carl Zeiss
company as a shareholder. Zeiss thereby acquired a partnership with a
manufacturer best known for their roof prism binoculars introduced in 1897, and
in 1905 the "Dialyt" series of Abbe-Koenig in line prism binoculars,
and rifle scopes. Hence the similarity between the appearance of traditional
Hensoldt roof prism binoculars made since about 1905 and several Carl Zeiss roof
prism products up to today. Improvements continued, including the 1933 shift
from binocular housing construction of brass and zinc to light weight metals
including aluminum and magnesium.
Zeiss had become involved in camera lens design and fabrication giving the
world such famous names as "Tessar", "Biotar" and "Sonnar"
(the latter developed by Dr. Ludwig Bertele - another famous name in optics
design). In 1926 Carl Zeiss Jena combined five companies including "Contessa"
to produce cameras and lenses. 1926 "Zeiss Ikon, AG" based in Dresden
began to produce box cameras; in 1932 Carl Zeiss entered the 35mm camera market
(pioneered by rival Leica) with its first "Contax" range finder
cameras also built in Dresden. These in prewar and postwar configurations earned
worldwide respect and admiration leading to the development of the Contarex and
the Contax RTS camera series (some of which are now fabricated by
Yashica-Kyocera of Japan under license to Zeiss specifications). Lenses made by
Carl Zeiss were made for sale with cameras manufactured by other firms such as
Rollei and Exacta at Dresden. Zeiss lenses made in Germany and by Yashica
continue as the choice for several camera manufacturing firms including "Hasselblad"
of Sweden - even though in the mid 1970 Hasselblad seriously contemplated
offering "Nikon" lenses. And Zeiss lenses to this day also remain
available for use with many commercial products (including copiers,
photogrammetric cameras, comparators, etc.).
The 1930's were an exciting time of change and discovery in the world, and
exhilarating time of productivity for Carl Zeiss Jena Astronomical Instruments
section. By 1930 the first Planetarium had opened in North America; the
"Adler" Zeiss Planetarium in Chicago. This was to introduce several
generations of youngsters and adults to a rare treat - a tour of the heavens. To
this day Zeiss Planetarium instruments continue to inspire awe at facilities
around the world including that planetarium projector at the Smithsonian Air and
Space Museum "Einstein Planetarium" in Washington, D.C.
By 1933 Zeiss had manufactured several proven refractors of the
"E", "A" and "AS" achromatic doublet designs, and
apochromat triplets of the "U.V." and "B" (Koenig) designs.
These telescopes were offered in apertures of up to 65cm (25.6 inch) aperture
f16 requiring a 14.5 meter diameter dome, a 60cm (23.62 inch) "Doppelrefraktor"
(double refractor) f16 was available employing two objectives mounted in
parallel within one tube - potentially the largest "binocular" ever
made, a 36cm "Dreifacher" employing three telescopes (a "trinocular"?)
with two U.V. triplets of 36cm with a 30cm "E" objective guidescope
for astrographic uses, and numerous smaller refractors of 40cm, 30cm, 25cm down
to 6cm achromatic models for use by amateurs and schools. Large pedestal or
tripod mounted binoculars of from 60mm up to 15cm with 20x, 40 and 80x
magnification oculars mounted in a turret were in production. Mirror telescopes
of Newtonian, Cassegrain and Schmidt designs included models up to 1.25 meter
aperture in single, or double or even triple configurations for astrographic
applications. Zenith telescopes, spectrographic instruments and attachments,
micrometers, photometers, comparators, coelostats of at least up to 65 cm
diameter, and sundials of up to at least 90cm diameter rounded out the product
line. And of course the production of telescopes was accompanied by the
fabrication of mounts and drives to move them, and the domes to house them.
Another noteworthy milestone was on November 1, 1935 when by then a staff
member at Zeiss (Alexander Smakula) developed and then patented anti- reflective
(T Transparenz) coatings thereby improving light transmission
dramatically over uncoated lenses in binoculars to over 80 per cent, and finding
other applications for the advances of optics in many other fields. The AR
coatings remained a military secret until about 1940. By 1990, Zeiss Oberkochen
would improve the anti reflective coatings to transmit more than 90 percent of
the light entering a binocular (the T* designation). In 1988 "Phase
Correction" coatings were introduced on all Carl Zeiss Oberkochen roof
prism binoculars to further improve resolution and contrast of roof prisms.
And Smakula was also involved in the development of crystals grown from
solutions in a laboratory environment. By the end of the 1930's he had developed
the first KRS five mixed crystal (thallium iodide-thallium bromide) which
remains in use in infrared technology applications.
By the mid 1930's Zeiss offered a very wide selection of camera lenses and
filters for use with print, and movie cameras, including some particularly
unusual models such as the "Quartz-Anastigmat" of 120mm or 250mm focal
length described by Zeiss as a "rapid special lens for criminological and
scientific photography particularly with ultra-violet light".
The 1937 literature indicated Zeiss had established marketing branches in
Berlin, Vienna, Cologne, Hamburg, Brussels, London, New York, Los Angeles (under
New York), Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Tokyo with other firms
acting as sales agents in Montreal, Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, Singapore,
Melbourne and Sydney, Bangkok, Cairo and Haifa, Johannesburg, Stockholm,
Amsterdam, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Shanghai.
By 1937 Zeiss listed about 20 high quality monocular, binocular and stereo
microscope configurations in their literature. And they also marketed a wide
selection of optional attachments and illuminators including at least 33
objectives of from 2X to 120X (including six Fluorite models), and about 20
eyepieces of Huygens, Orthoscopic, and Compensating designs of from 3X to 30X.
It was the quality of design and manufacture of products by the German firms
including Zeiss, Hensoldt, and Leitz (now also marketed as Leica) to name a few
that over the course of the early half of the century served to cement the
international perception of the preeminent quality of German optics mechanical
design and manufacture as a whole.
Carl Zeiss Jena had become a Social-Democratic bulwark. Yet from 1933 and
through World War II the management of the Carl Zeiss industrial complex had
generally supported the Nazi regime as did most major German industries,
although there are examples of personal risk taken in favor of high moral
principles. By 1937 the corporate priorities were obviously changing. In Dresden
where camera production had been dominant, civilian products and development
were gradually discouraged in favor of those products such as bombsights which
met the more immediate goals of the government.
When World War II began (arguably) in September 1939 there was an air of
invincibility in Germany, and in keeping with traditional practice, most Zeiss
products (and those of other manufacturers in Germany) had proudly borne the
trademark, and city of their origin of the product. However, soon it became
clear that the Allies were able to identify and bomb targets in Germany. So, in
February 1942 the German Armaments Ministry assigned three letter code marks to
those companies engaged in fabricating military hardware. The codes identified
the manufacturer, and their facility of origin. Carl Zeiss Jena products
employed code marks including "blc"; Leica "beh", and so on.
There were forced foreign laborers ("Fremdarbeiter") brought to
work at Carl Zeiss Jena and other German manufacturing facilities. And it is
certain that not all Germans were sympathetic to the Nazi regime, in fact there
are known examples of intervention by the Zeiss Personnel Department to obtain
the release from prison of foreign laborers. Some Germans might warn newcomers
to "what what you say" around certain other Germans who might be Nazi
party supporters. One foreign laborer at Jena recalls visiting a couple whose
son was at the Russian front and listening to the English news from London; he
was later warned such conduct could lead to the death penalty.
Zeiss optics figured prominently in the success of many weapons systems. For
examples there were the pressure resistant U-Boat targeting bearing transmitter
binoculars, ultra wide angle large aperture binoculars, the stereoscopic range
finders and sights used to direct fearsome weapons such as the outstanding 88mm
anti-tank guns. One of the most published early photographs of the war shows
Adolf Hitler outside of Warsaw Poland in September of 1939 observing through a
pair of artillery director periscoping binoculars (commonly used by a battery
director to evaluate and correct artillery ranging) as the city is leveled by
German artillery and air forces.
However, with the turning tide as the end of the "Third Reich"
approached, the advancing allied forces would discover interesting products of
German research and development efforts in many areas including optics. Among
these was the "liberation" of at least one 200mm binocular made by
Zeiss which weighed about 1200 lbs! These remain in the custody of the U.S.
Government in Washington, D.C. and are completing a comprehensive restoration by
Mr. Kevin Kuhne in New Jersey even though there are no plans to display them.
Intricate examples of complex lens making were found bearing Zeiss code marks
indicating production after November 1944, even though the need for such
sophistication and refinement on one product in a nation beset by lack of raw
materials and manpower could be questioned. We have an example of a finely
crafted hand held Zeiss 7x50 binocular with very sophisticated optics, two
custom made sets of filters, finely sewn leather case with straps and eyepiece
rain guard (engraved "Benutzer" - for the use of) that was made at a
time while other Zeiss hand held military binoculars made were being shipped
with painted prism housings instead of the pebble grain exteriors and no
Major German cities were bombed during the war. Stuttgart for example was
bombed in 1944 with the central district being obliterated while the Contessa
factory in the Henslack district suffered only minor damage. Jena was bombed by
the U.S. 8th Air Force several times during the course of the war, with
increasing severity. In one bomb raid of 19 March 1945 witnessed by Lucas
VanHilst "I was standing outside a zig-zag "Schutzgraben" looking
up to 'my friends', the first wave of whom just passed by so to speak. Then
suddenly a German soldier on leave grabbed me by the arm. "Mach' schnell, 'runter!!".
The suction of an explosion threw me down the stairs. He may well have saved my
life. In the center section several persons were killed or wounded. The last
bombardment was the worst. The sight of carts loaded with dead bodies was
shocking - as it would anywhere. That air attack did substantial damage to some
Zeiss and also to Schott buildings (where one of my Dutch friends was killed).
The rather small "Alte Stadt" was totaled. Visiting in 1994 it still
was a sad sight."
There is evidence that the disruptions of raw materials and transport were
having some chain reaction effect at Jena and those who depended on products
coming from Jena. In March the completion and delivery to the military of
several new "Jagdtiger" (or "Hunting Tiger") tanks were
being held up by the late delivery of the special shock resistant (the tank had
a 128mm gun!), precision sight components from Carl Zeiss Jena.
It appears that towards the end of the war in Europe one of the last
decisions made in the selection of targets for the allied air forces was whether
to bomb Schweinfurt (known for its ball bearing production, and a October 1943
bombing campaign that resulted in tragic losses for the U.S. Army Air Forces and
the German Luftwaffe), or Jena with its Zeiss and Jena works. Schweinfurt was
selected even though by then more than 35% of its production from the five
factories had been dispersed.
On April 6, 1945 90th Infantry forces of the U.S. Third Army came upon the
Kaiseroda salt mine near Merkers (a few miles inside the border of Thuringia).
The mine housed currency (including 98 million French francs, 2.7 billion Reichsmarks)
and gold and coin including the entire gold reserves in 550 bags each of 55 to
81 lbs. totaling nearly 250 tons from the Reichsbank in Berlin (including
711 bags each filled with $25,000 in U.S. $20 gold coins), and silent
testament to victims of the Nazi's: stacks of valuables taken from those at the
death camps (jewelry - wedding rings, watch cases, gold filled glasses, teeth
with gold and silver fillings, etc.), 400 tons of art from Germany and works
plundered from conquered nations, dozens of complex microscopes and other
optical instruments made by Zeiss and others. The entire 712th tank Battalion
and the 357th Infantry regiment were also diverted to guard the mine in
preparation for removal of the items to the Reichsbank building in
One humorous aside to this was that on the morning of April 12, Generals
Eisenhower, Bradley, Patton and Maj. Gen. Manton Eddy took the 1,600 foot
elevator ride down into the shaft. When the elevator doors opened at the bottom
of the shaft, a Private on guard stumbled to salute, and in the tomblike
stillness was heard to mutter "Jesus Christ!".
Among the most disconcerting discoveries made by the unprepared allied
soldiers were the concentration death and labor camps. On April 11 U.S. Third
Army XX Corp forces overran Buchenwald (near Weimar and Jena) where some
prisoners were employed as slave labor for the manufacture and assembly of
components including military binoculars with Zeiss code marks; on April 11
prisoners were observed throwing binoculars over the fence to passing allied
The U.S. Third Army continued its advance, and on April 13 the regimental
combat team 80th Division cleared Jena where they found the Carl Zeiss factory
complex had sustained what they described as "surprisingly little effective
bomb damage". By then the original large planetarium test dome was gone,
even though nearby on another roof top a small telescope observatory dome
remained. The Yalta agreement fashioned between the allies political leadership
had determined that Germany would be partitioned into four areas, each under
control of a major ally (England, France, Russia, U.S.A). All of the Zeiss
facilities but the Contessa works in Stuttgart (occupied by the French but
designated for U.S. control) were in what would become the Russian zone of
occupation; and so at Jena over the course of several days the U.S. forces
proceeded to evacuate manufacturing assets and documents.
At least some foreign laborers went with the U.S. Third Army to act in
capacities such as "member-translator" of outfits such as the
"Civic Affairs Team TA-4" traveling as far east as Vimperk (Winterburg),
Czechia. With the rapid advances into areas being newly occupied the letter of
the law or procedure were not always adhered to; just imagine running into a
person in U.S. army uniform carrying a carbine, with a Dutch passport!
The members of the Carl Zeiss Jena board of management and the most vital
staff including Professor Dr. Ing. Walther Bauersfeld (1879-1959) Scientific
Head with the company since 1908, Dr. Ing. Heinz Kuppenbender, Professor Dr.
Joos, Paul Henrichs, and about 130 engineers and technicians were evacuated to
western Germany occupied by allied forces to what would become the Federal
Republic of Germany. The evacuees were advised by the American officials
(reportedly in an early version of "make them an offer they can not
refuse") that they would be moved to the American Zone of occupation; there
are accounts that some went voluntarily and others were given no choice. Army
trucks were assigned to move the families who were afforded only enough time to
pack a suitcase. The 65 year old Frau Bauersfeld was allowed to take (as a last
minute concession) one armchair for the long ride in the back of the truck.
Months later, with the help of a neighbor and some luck one of Prof. Bauersfelds
daughters moved from Jena the family Steinway piano on a railway car to
Heidenheim. Zeiss Administrator Joos went on to the United States.
Within as little a few weeks after the fighting concluded, some Zeiss
facilities were back at work. The Contessa works at Stuttgart resumed production
of Ikonta and Nettar film cameras. German military and civilian optics of the
period remain among the most sought after "war trophies" taken home by
occupying forces; to this day many people represent undocumented binoculars as
being the personal Zeiss of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.
Shortly afterwards, in compliance with the Yalta agreements the U.S.military
forces departed. In June or early July the Russian military forces occupied Jena
and the remainder of what became East Germany (German Democratic Republic). By
one year later, the Russians had evacuated much of the remaining technical and
management staff and about 92% of the Carl Zeiss Jena manufacturing facilities
to the east. Other German manufacturing assets were also confiscated under the
reparations provisions; these gutted many factories mostly in the Russian
occupied zone. At Dresden, the Contax rangefinder camera dies and some staff
were taken to Kiev. It is likely the Russians wanted to emasculate Germany
and/or take whatever reparations they could against a Germany that had decimated
Russia's population (less so than Stalin). Further, the Russian fear of possible
further conflict with the western allies rendered moving any production
capability into a more defensible Russian province a logical strategic step.
After the war, the "Zeiss Stiftung von Jena" was established at
Heidenheim with the "Opton-Optische Werstatte Oberkochen GmbH" factory
at Oberkochen on the banks of the Kocher River near Stuttgart, with the Schott
Glass Works subsidiary located at Mainz. The most important provisions of the
- The Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung is the sole owner of Carl Zeiss and Schott
- Financial resources must be obtained independently by Zeiss Stifftungs own
- No external influences e. g. by private persons, and no capital from
external sources or the government
By 1947 the enterprise at Oberkochen was doing business as "Zeiss-Opton-Optische
Werstatte Oberkochen GmbH". Soon, the Hensoldt facilities at Wetzlar
resumed production, while microscope production resumed at the Winkel factory at
Goettingen, and eyeglass production in Aalen. On 3 March 1948 the transfer of
Zeiss Ikon headquarters from Dresden to Stuttgart was formalized. In 1951 the
Zeiss Ikon factory facility at Stuttgart would be about doubled in size to
accommodate the headquarters and production operations.
Shortly after the war Carl Zeiss, Inc. of the United States resumed the
import of products from Zeiss Jena and Zeiss Oberkochen. And by 1960 the U.S.
based company was owned by Carl Zeiss of West Germany. Dr. Bauersfeld continued
to work until he passed away in 1959, at age 80!
While Jena had resumed the manufacture of some products (by 1947 binoculars
were back on line) it was on June 1, 1948 that the East Germans now independent
of Carl Zeiss Oberkochen formally reorganized the original factory in Jena as a
state owned corporation to be known as "V.E.B Carl Zeiss Jena"
(peoples owned corporation). The reorganized Carl Zeiss Jena under the direction
of the East German government gradually resumed production of microscopes,
measuring instruments, astronomical telescopes, photographic lenses, military
optics. By 1949 in Dresden cameras such as the Contax II single lens reflex with
a new 42mm threaded mount, and camera lenses such as the "Sonnar" were
in production with all internal and external air to glass surfaces being
"T" anti-reflection coated. The occasional similarity of appearance,
of design, and the interchange ability of Zeiss Jena and Oberkochen components
such as components for microscopes, and cameras was more than by accident. For
example, some binoculars marketed by Carl Zeiss Oberkochen (bearing the
trademark "Optron") were actually made by Carl Zeiss Jena.
As diplomatic relations between East and West were closing, both Zeiss
companies sought out new sources. During the time up to about 1952 there were
hopes for a German reunification and so the Zeiss counterparts actually worked
to help each other recover to some degree. The hopes for reunification were
dashed as the East German political leadership assumed firm control of all
commercial enterprises; from now until reunification the Communist Party and its
system of promotion by political achievement which selected the top management
would determine the course of company policy.
By 1954 the Zeiss Jena works had reestablished their ability to produce world
class planetarium projectors, the first completed unit being delivered in 1954
to the Volgograd Planetarium in Russia.
One interesting experiment at diversification by Jena occurred in the mid
1950's; Carl Zeiss Jena produced four variants of a model two-cycle diesel
engine ("Aktivist") for hobbyist applications in model cars, planes,
and boats! In 1956 Zeiss introduced their own publication (similar to the "Zeiss
Information" published by the West) to highlight their accomplishments, the
"Jena Review". In another footnote, by 1956 Carl Zeiss Jena binocular
production was moved from the Jena works to Eisfeld. Among new facilities were
those opened in 1961 at Eisenberg near Jena for the manufacturing of synthetic
optical crystals for use in the fabrication of optical components within
microscopy, astronomy, photography, medical and laser technologies, and more.
And by 1963 Jena was manufacturing numeric measuring systems for the precise
measurement of angles and length.
In West Germany camera and camera lens production were underway at the "Contessa"
camera factory in Stuttgart. In May 1950 at the Photokina camera show, Zeiss
introduced their new "Contax IIa" 35mm rangefinder camera bearing the
"Zeiss Ikon Stuttgart" mark.
By 1953 it could be argued that microsurgery was rendered possible with Zeiss
Oberkochen surgical microscopes. In 1953 Oberkochen introduced a publication
"Zeiss Information" to highlight the latest innovations at Zeiss. In
1954 the Oberkochen facility produced its first binocular: an innovative very
compact 8x30mm Porro Prism model made possible in part by their development of
the air spaced objective. In 1958 Zeiss Oberkochen introduced an improved wide
angle eyepiece designed by Horst Kohler and Helmut Knutti; designated by the
binocular model designation suffix "B" (for Brillentrager
spectacle wearer) this allowed persons wearing prescription spectacles or
sunglasses to see the field of view with none or little vignetting. Also in 1956
they developed a new flexible gasket system for their central focus binoculars
which substantially improved the sealing of the interior optics against dust,
dew, light rain. Beginning in 1962 space missions are flown with Zeiss optics;
Jena providing for Russia, and Oberkochen the West. And now the unified Carl
Zeiss continues to do so to this very day.
By 1954, Carl Zeiss Oberkochen had acquired a majority stock holding in
Hensoldt. By 1964 Zeiss of West Germany had moved all binocular production to
its Hensoldt subsidiary works in Wetzlar. Then in 1968 Hensoldt became a fully
owned member of the Carl Zeiss Oberkochen group. To this day, binoculars and
riflescopes made there bear either the Zeiss or Hensoldt trademarks - the
Hensoldt trademarked products being offered primarily for the military and law
Binocular innovation by Carl Zeiss at Oberkochen and Wetzlar continued with
the introduction of an even more compact in line Schmidt (or Pechan) prism
design for binoculars in 1964 bearing the trademarked "Dialyt"
designation. While Zeiss had a tradition of offering "theater glasses"
(low magnification, compact binoculars for use at concerts, etc.) dating back to
before World War I, it was in the early 1960's that Zeiss introduced high
quality pocket size "compact binoculars", that could fit easily in to
a shirt pocket; the first being an 8x20mm model introduced in 1969.
In the early 1970's tensions between the two firms between the
two firms peaked (as they did between East and West) with each of both companies
claiming the exclusive rights to the patents, trademarks and traditions of
"Carl Zeiss". This culminated in a series of legal battles around the
globe, among these was one resolved by U.S. Supreme Court granting rights to the
name "Zeiss" to the West German Zeiss firm. As a result of court
decisions, and marketing agreements marketed for products sold in the United
States the trademark "ZEISS" or "CARL ZEISS" appeared only
on products manufactured by Carl Zeiss based in Oberkochen, West Germany.
The bold logo employed by Zeiss West Germany products until 1991
The East German products manufactured by the Jena firm were marketed
in the United States only under the "aus JENA", "JENOPTIK",
or "JENOPTIK JENA" trademark. The original "CARL ZEISS JENA"
trademark appeared on East German products sold in the former communist block
nations, and in Canada, England, and some other countries. And to add to the
confusion, in some countries both trademarks were recognized. However, both East
and West continued to employ the name "Carl Zeiss" throughout the
postwar era until the reunification of 1990 wherever possible.
Zeiss Jena maintained an office in New York City, with distribution of
microscopes (and incidentally - planetarium instruments) through a private
company in the mid U.S., binoculars and microscopes through a company in
Pennsylvania, and surveying instruments such as Theodolites through another firm
in Florida. These firms were completely independent of one another.
Zeiss West Germany continued to develop precise electro-optical equipment for
distance and height measurements which found applications in sports events;
their Recording Electronic Tachemeter measuring systems and their variants were
used at international sports since 1970 events including the Olympic Games held
in Munich in 1972 and those in Montreal in 1976.
In 1976 the the West German Chancellor Schmidt presented the Carl Zeiss
Oberkochen Mark IV Planetarium projector to the National Air and Space Museum
"Einstein Planetarium" in Washington, D.C.. Among the invited guests
were Ruth Van Hilst b. Bauersfeld daughter of the former head developer of Zeiss
planetarium instruments. The Zeiss instrument remains one of the highlights at
the most visited attraction in the United States.
Zeiss West Germany continued to set the world standards for microscopy in
many areas. In 1973 Carl Zeiss West Germany announced the first high precision
UMM 500 3D coordinate measuring machine. In 1976 Zeiss announced the first
microscopes specifically designed for the examination of living cells, these
were the IM 35 and ICM 405. In 1982 Carl Zeiss West Germany announced the
world's first LSM Laser Scan Microscope - the quantum leap in microscopy. And
then in 1984 a new era in electron microscopy was introduced, the EM 902 with
In 1995 the NASA space probe "Galileo" reached Jupiter and then on
July 13 it dispatched a probe into Jupiter's atmosphere. A "Helium
Abundance Detector" interfereometer on the probe made by Zeiss at
Oberkochen also contributed to the success of the effort during the 75 minute
descent. Delivered by Zeiss in 1984, this was the first instrument in space made
by Zeiss at Oberkochen, and so far is the farthest that Zeiss has traveled from
All the while Carl Zeiss Jena continued to make innovative products including
electro-optical equipment for distance and height measurements in sports events
including the Olympic Games of Moscow in 1980, Los Angeles in 1984, and Seoul in
1988. Also developed was the "Cosmorama" computer controlled
planetarium projector in 1984, and later the "Fundus" camera and their
workstations for ophthalmology. The value of the western currencies figured
prominently in what success the eastern products enjoyed in the west.
In 1988 Zeiss Oberkochen announced the "P-Coatings" (invented by
Adolf Weyauch); a "phase correcting coating" applied to a surface of
roof prisms. This corrected the phase shifts as light passes through the system
resulting in a sharper and clearer image. This and other innovations continued
culminating with the introduction in 1990 of the "Design Selection"
series of compact binoculars. And also in 1990 the 20x60 S - the world's first
hand-held, mechanically stabilized binocular (this too was invented by Adolf
On June 1, 1990 the "ROSAT" X-ray satellite was launched from Cape
Canaveral; at the time it featured the world's smoothest mirrors and was the
largest X-ray telescope ever made (83.4cm aperture); it conducted the first
X-ray survey of all the skies.
While in 1986, Carl Zeiss Jena resumed production of cameras.
Carl Zeiss West Germany grew to become the world's largest optics research
and development firm with marketing organizations in at least 28 Western
countries. It features state of the art microscopes, several of the world's
largest or most complicated telescopes, specialized scientific instruments,
measuring instruments, military optics (including submarine periscopes),
spectacle frames and lenses, rifle scopes, photographic lenses, cameras ("Contax"
made under license by Yashica/Kyocera) and binoculars.
In 1990 Carl Zeiss Oberkochen introduced the "20x60 S" binocular;
this employed a Zeiss developed, revolutionary "cardanic" dampened
stabilization mechanism that does not rely on electronic or hydraulic
mechanisms. The 20x60 S allows a person to hand hold the binocular with such
apparent steadiness by the reduction of vibration that one has the sense of
looking though a much lower magnification binocular of 4x or so! The 20x60
development has earned for Carl Zeiss the "R&D Magazine" award for
developing one of the 100 most important technical innovations of 1992.
Carl Zeiss Jena continued to rely on a far less sophisticated network of
independent agents. The director of Carl Zeiss West Germany was quoted in a
"Wall Street Journal" newspaper interview as stating that western
style marketing "simply doesn't exist" in the east, "everything
that is produced is dictated by the plan". Yet by 1989 Carl Zeiss Jena was
the largest of East Germany's 120 state owned corporations (Kombinate).
However, Zeiss employees in the east worked an average of 6 more hours per week
at less than twice the salary of a western worker. The eastern technology was
falling behind the west, now being relatively primitive and too inefficient to
compete in a modern economy. While the western facilities were more automated,
energy efficient, and more ecologically sound in terms of worker conditions and
production of waste materials. In too few areas the west's relatively higher
labor costs and demands were a handicap in competition against the east,
although after the reunification Germany is exporting jobs to third world
economies (such as the U.S.A.).
The German reunification of 1990 was symbolically realized with the literal
collapse of the Berlin Wall, and the practical fall of Communism. But while the
West German economy was robust, the East German economy was so stagnant that the
transition has been turbulent and fraught with uncertainty for displaced
workers. At the time of the reunification Carl Zeiss Oberkochen had a logical
desire to acquire only the best technical and most historic assets of the East
German Zeiss firm. Zeiss Oberkochen then had approximately 31,700 employees who
were generating $2.18 billion in sales; Oberkochen did not wish to acquire Carl
Zeiss Jena liabilities (as most West German firms were hesitant to do) such as
the staff and pension expenses for a grossly overstaffed (totaling about 70,000)
and under productive (sales of about $390 million) work force. Furthermore,
Oberkochen wished to avoid manufacturing and personnel redundancies. And so an
initial merger plan was not accepted by the Carl Zeiss Jena firm.
Since shortly after World War II Zeiss Oberkochen products bore the trademark
"ZEISS West Germany". Within weeks after the reunification of 1990 new
Zeiss letterhead and products bore the trademark "ZEISS Germany".
The logo employed by a unified Zeiss for products made after 1991
When economic realities settled in at a now near bankrupt Carl Zeiss
Jena (and other eastern manufacturers across a united Germany), negotiations
were concluded by June of 1991 with Oberkochen to acquire only certain selected
assets including the original facilities Jena. However, only a little more than
10% of Jena's peak 70,000 person labor force of 1989 (down to about 27,000 in
May 1991) would be incorporated into Zeiss Oberkochen. And even then contrary to
optimistic plans, the remaining labor force would be reduced even further over
the next few years.
For an example: in July, of 1991 the German privatization authorities
concluded the purchase of the Carl Zeiss Jena V.E.B. binocular and riflescope
manufacturing works at Eisfeld by Docter-Optic GmbH of Wetzlar. Eisfeld was not
acquired by Zeiss Oberkochen as the Eisfeld manufacturing techniques were
considered primitive and inefficient by Oberkochen standards; Oberkochen already
having an efficient binocular plant at Wetzlar. It could be argued that Zeiss
Oberkochen lost an opportunity to retain some of the best Porro prism designs
made such as the Zeiss Jena "Nobilem". The passing of Eisfeld ended a
Zeiss tradition of almost 100 years of making 80mm large binocular series, the
last being the "Aspectem" series a relatively new model of which maybe
100 to 200 units were made, and possibly the best 80mm ever offered by Zeiss and
yet with much potential remaining for improvements. And Oberkochen passed on
other innovations produced by notable Jena employees such as Dr. August
The Eisenberg facility continued with the development and growth of synthetic
crystals to support its own products. By 1991 Jena offered at least 19 different
materials grown from melts and solutions, having made something on the order of
250 tons of materials in its recent 30 years of production. One of the most
important products for the advanced amateur and institutional astronomy markets
to come of this was the growth of high quality Calcium Fluoride (CaF2) crystals
from Stockbarger melts which made possible the "APQ" Apochromatic
objectives that Jena offered for sale in 105mm, 130mm and 150mm apertures; a
206mmf8 "APQ" telescope was advertised but Zeiss was never able to
complete a single instrument before the small telescope manufacturing group at
Jena was cut back further. And at least one 80mm x 500mm "APQ"
objective was made, possibly for use in terrestrial and compact astronomical
telescopes, and in the large binoculars previously manufactured at the Eisfeld
Since the reunification, the groups involved with research and development,
and the growth of synthetic crystals and fluorides, and marketing have been
incorporated in Eisenberg plant (established near Jena in 1961) as part of the
"Optics Division". Although a large marketing force for other Zeiss
groups including consumer optics remains at Aalen. The groups from Oberkochen
and Jena involved in the design and manufacture of precise height and distance
measuring devices such as those employed at Olympic Games continue under the
name "Zeiss Optics".
The group at the Jena works who were involved in production of astronomical
telescopes was retained, while the planetarium production team at Oberkochen was
moved to and incorporated with existing Jena facilities. The production of
large, observatory telescopes continued at Jena with the first joint Zeiss
telescope project being a contact signed in November of 1991 to produce a 1
meter telescope (the 13th instrument of the design made at Jena since the first
one made in 1971) with control system and a 12.5 meter dome for the European
Space Agency. The Carl Zeiss Jena GmbH Division of Astronomical Instruments
worked with the Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen APS Division.
Although the production of relatively small achromatic and apochromatic
refractor telescopes of up to 15cm, and catadioptic systems of up to 18cm, all
with a variety of accessories at Jena would continue until 1994 when it was
realized that Zeiss could not compete in the world market; the Zeiss "APQ"
refractor telescopes optics were among the finest in the world but the inability
to Zeiss to adapt these products promptly to the realities of a free marketplace
assured their demise.
In mid April of 1992 at the "Opto 92" European optoelectrics
symposium in Paris, the optical metrology departments of Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen
and Carl Zeiss Jena displayed their products as a unified Zeiss for the first
time. Also in 1992 the publication "Zeiss Information" and the
"Jena Review" were combined to produce the publication: "Zeiss
Information with Jena Review" bearing the copyright logo and "Carl
Zeiss, Oberkochen, and Carl Zeiss Jena, GmbH, Jena". Also in 1992 the
"Reta-Sport A" measuring instruments was announced brining in a new
generation of distance measuring instruments geared especially to sporting
events such as those held at the Olympic Games.
In the meantime, research and development continued to show results. In 1994
Zeiss announced navigated microsurgery with MKM which permits more accurate and
gentler brain surgery with an "electronic pilot". In 1994 Zeiss also
announced the "Night Owl" series binoculars in 7x45B, 8x56B, and
10x56B. These represented a new level of technological achievement. Featuring
wider angle views than predecessors, a new "super achromatic"
objective lens, "Phase Corrected" Abbe-Koenig prisms, light
transmission of at least 91%, and nitrogen filled composite housings reinforced
with fiberglass to assure high endurance. In September 1994 Zeiss announced the
first "Contax" 35mm rangefinder camera with interchangeable lenses
made since 1959; the "G1" features include auto focus with any of four
optional lenses, TTL metering, automatic film advance of up to 2 frames per
second, and a luxurious titanium body.
Zeiss Sales Volume and Employees Worldwide Trend from 1989/90 to 1994/95
For 1995, the tradition of innovation continued with the introduction by
Zeiss of the "Axiophot 2", the world's first computer controlled
In May 1995 the high-tech
companies Leica in St. Gallen (Switzerland), and Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen
(Germany) signed a letter of intent to pool their electron microscopy resources
in an independent joint venture. The focus of the new company is the onward
development, manufacture, sales and service of scanning and transmission
The shareholders' agreement for the founding of the new joint venture
"LEO Electron Microscopy Ltd." (LEO) was formally signed on September
12, 1995, ahead of the originally envisaged schedule. LEO officially commenced
trading on October 2, 1995 following the approval of the German antitrust
authorities (Bundeskartellamt, Berlin). The contract incorporating the new
company was signed at the German Society of Electron Microscopy annual meeting
in Leipzig by the CEOs of the parties, Dr. Peter Grassmann (Carl Zeiss) and Dr.
Markus Rauh (Leica). A parallel announcement of the founding of the new company
was made at the EMAG conference held at the University of Birmingham.
Leica and Carl Zeiss each hold a 50% share in LEO, with operating
subsidiaries in the UK, Germany, France and the USA. Dr. Peter Grassmann, CEO
Carl Zeiss was nominated Chairman of the Board of the new company; Raghuvir
Kalbag, a UK national, Chief Executive Officer. R. Kalbag comes to the company
from the international headquarters of Leica in St. Gallen where he is a Member
of the Corporate Management, and brings with him experience in the field of
electron microscopy going back to 1976. They were supported by a management team
drawn primarily from Carl Zeiss and Leica. Worldwide representation is provided
through the existing Leica and Carl Zeiss sales channels and a network of
The existing facilities in Cambridge and Oberkochen for R&D,
production, marketing and service of electron microscopes would be carried over
into the new company. This decision maintains the long history of expertise and
knowledge in transmission and scanning electron microscopes in the two sites
where these technologies were pioneered. It was envisaged that LEO will employ
about 350 people world-wide, including those in the distribution and service
networks, with a turnover of over 50 million pounds sterling.
Carl Zeiss dissolved their amateur telescope division located at Jena in the
Fall of 1995.
By 1996 Carl Zeiss indicated an organization of five groups: Microscopy,
Medical Systems, Consumer Optics, Industrial Metrology, and Opto-electronic
In 1996 Zeiss announced new lens systems for semiconductor production to
permit future fabrication of 256 megabyte DRAM memory chips, and the "SILEX"
experiment with Zeiss telescopes for the testing of optical telecommunication in
A number of events and products commemorate the 150th anniversary of the
Carl- Zeiss-Stiftung (Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen and Schott Glasswerke, Mainz).
Several of these events were noted at our "Current
Zeiss News" Internet Site page. Also, Carl Zeiss announced a limited
edition binocular specially produced to commemorate the 150th anniversary. The
binocular chosen is possibly the most successful, and popular of the Zeiss
Dialyt series. Only 1,000 "Zeiss
10 x 40 B ClassiC Gold" binoculars will be made. Finished in the finest
grade of Nappa Leather in brown, with the serialized current ZEISS logo in 18
carat gold, the eyepiece and objective rings in 18 carat gold plate, in a deluxe
brown leather case with snap closure, and a personalized wood presentation box
bearing the owners name for $3,395.00.
With the high living and salary standards of the West German economy, and the
pressures on that economy to subsidize and modernize the former East Germany,
and need to meet the competition from abroad (most notably from Japan, and the
United States), there has never been so many challenges to the once dominant
Carl Zeiss firm. In fact 1996 finally showed a profit for the unified Zeiss
thereby indicating a good measure of recovery from the impact of unification.
In April of 1997 the Astro-Physics Company, Baader Planetarium, and Company
Seven announced the availability of a limited quantity of new
production Carl Zeiss "Abbe Orthoscopic" oculars for astronomical
telescopes. This marked the first production of such accessories since when
Zeiss dissolved their amateur telescope division in the Fall of 1995.
There is little doubt that Zeiss will continue their traditions of excellence
and innovation. Today the Carl Zeiss trademark remains a symbol of traditional
values and innovation in optics technology.
Today, the unified Carl Zeiss Stiftung is a worldwide organization
with representation in over 100 countries.
The author of this article (Martin C. Cohen) can not accept credit for much
more than compiling the information in this paper, as credit for the content
actually better placed with a variety of sources of knowledge and enthusiasm.
Among these are the contributors to the "Zeiss Historica" society
journal (most notably by Larry Gubas, Nicholas Grossman, Wolfgang Pfeiffer,
William Stone, Joachim Arnz, Charles Barringer, Thomas Schreiner, Maurice
Zubatkin, Hans-Jurgen-Kuc, and many other fine authors) and other publications
geared to enthusiasts and historians, and ultimately to the current and former
employees of the Carl Zeiss organizations including Lucas VanHilst, and their
Corrections or additions are invited. The writer also wishes to clarify that
this by no means a comprehensive discussion, and that many individuals deserving
credit for innovation and administrative accomplishments at Zeiss are worthy of
Contents Copyright 1994-98 Used by Permission of Company
Seven, all Rights Reserved.