German Inventions

Germany mapSince many people do have German ancestry in their family tree, it can be quite interesting and informative to look at just a few of the common inventions that were all developed by citizens living in Germany over different decades. As you look over the group, see if there are any of those surnames on your tree.

It was Johannes Gutenberg who developed the first printing press using movable type around 1440. His invention democratized information, printing books and papers for more people to read.

The paper coffee filter was first developed using blotting paper from children’s school books to remove unwanted bitter coffee grounds. It was Melitta Bentz, a housewife, who had the idea to patent her invention in July 1908. She then founded a company with her husband and the couple were selling over a thousand filters by the next year.

A musical instrument, the accordion, was invented by a German, Christian Friedrich Buschmann, who in 1822 attached bellows to a portable keyboard with vibrating reeds, naming it a “hand-aeoline”.

Germans like to be on time, so German clock manufacturer Junghans Uhren Gmbh developed a watch that automatically adjusts itself to an atomic clock using radio signals. Invented in 1990, the watch will remain accurate to the second for at least a million years!

The first true working car was little more than a motorized tricycle. It was invented by two Germans, Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler in 1886, 22 years before the Model-T Ford went into production in the USA.1886 car

The woodwind instrument, a clarinet, was developed by Johann Christoph Denner in the 1680s.

In 1882 Paul Carl Beiersdorf developed and patented a new type of adhesive plastic gauze, what is now known as a bandage.

The popular painkiller is a German creation. The little white pill made from willow bark was developed by Felix Hoffmann in August 1897 for pharmaceutical giant Bayer, and although a US company claimed the patent for the drug after World War One, 12,000 of the 50,000 tonnes of Acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin) produced each year are still made by Bayer.

German inventors Jürgen Dethloff and Helmut Göttrup created in 1986 the first plastic credit / debit card with an in-built programmable microprocessor, the ancestor of the chip and PIN cards used in the 21st century.

In 1922 Hans Riegel Sr. developed the ‘gummy bear’ candy.gummy bears

Karl Nessler created a a method for ladies to have their straight hair curly. He used a mixture of cow urine and water with his special electric permanent wave machine in the first public demonstration on October 8,1905, but Nessler had been working on the idea since 1896. Permanent_Waving_MachineHe did a large showing in London in 1909 on the long hair of the time with great success.

Fahrenheit (in which water’s freezing point is 32 degrees and boiling point is 212) was the world standard until relatively recently and was invented by German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit in 1724.

Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen, a German chemist in 1855, came up with what was later named the Bunsen burner, so essential in the laboratory for decades.skd187990sdc

The worldwide tradition of the Easter Bunny, originates from religious beliefs of ancient Germanic tribes, then with the German Lutherans. Developed during Eastertide season, it was where the Easter Hare (a rabbit) judged if the children had been of good behavior, so they could receive treats.

German researcher Heinrich Göbel, who later came to America, worked on the incandescent light bulb about 1854, which was about 25 years before Thomas Edison did and patented in America. Gobel had never gotten a patent for his incandescent bulb.


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