25 Greatest German Inventions that Changed the World

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German Inventions

When the world wars and political turmoil were pummelling the world, Germany was churning out new inventions, one after another. The country has been an epicentre of intellectual revolutions, home to the likes of Karl Marx and Albert Einstein and it has borne renowned inventors, like Carl von Linde, Paul Nipkow who brought us the television, Hugo Junkers and Wernher von Braun who designed the first space rocket. Having nurtured some of the amazing geniuses, Germany has always emphasised on research and development and is home to many top universities in the world and many of them are specifically dedicated to engineering and science. This blog elaborates on the greatest German inventions and discoveries that truly transformed the world!

List of Greatest German Inventions

One must always know the great personalities that have contributed to the development of the world through their scientific endeavours and quickened the global advance towards modernity and enlightenment. Here is a list of some famous German inventions that you must know about: 

German Inventions Inventor Date
Diesel Engine Rudolf Diesel 1896
The Bunsen Burner Robert Bunsen 1855
The Electron Microscope Ernst Ruska, Max Knoll 1931
The Contact Lens Thomas Young 1801
The Printing Press Johannes Gutenberg 1456
Radar System Christian Hülsmeyer 1904
Atomic Force Microscope Gerd Binnig 1980
Rocket-Powered Aircraft Alexander Lippisch 1928
Airbag Walter Linderer 1951
Speedometer Otto Schultze 1902
Adidas Adolf (Adi) Dassler 1920
Aspirin  Bayer  1897
Automobile  Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler 1886
Beer  Wilhelm IV and Ludwig X  1516
Bicycle  Karl von Drais 1817
Chip Card Jürgen Dethloff and Helmut Göttrup 1969
Programmable computer Konrad Zuse 1941
Glider  Otto Lilienthal 1894 
Gummi Bear Hans Riegel 1922 
Helicopter  Heinrich Focke 1936
MP3 Karlheinz Brandenburg 1993
Fanta  Max Keith 1941
Coffee filter Melitta Bentz  1908
Adhesive tape Oscar Troplowitz 1901 
Accordion Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann 1822 

Diesel Engine

Rudolf Diesel Powered Up A More Efficient Machine | Diesel, Diesel engine,  Marine diesel engine
Courtesy: Pinterest

Amongst the top German inventions, the Diesel Engine invented the pressure-ignited heat engine which went on to become the predominant power source for large industries. He originally began developing refrigeration and ice plant but his primary aim was to build a high compression and self-igniting engine fundamentally according to the thermodynamic cycle. He began his experimentations with ammonia vapour and steam. At last, he developed an oil-based fuel that was inserted at the completion of compression and was ignited due to the heat and high temperature produced from the compression. He dreamt of this engine to be used by the employees at small scale industries to rise up in competition with the big industries involved in the fields like construction and agrarian areas. 

Bunsen Burner

Special Collections & Archives Research Center | Reproduced illustration  depicting the operation of a Bunsen burner.
Courtesy: Oregon State University Special Collection

In the year of 1852, the University of Heidelberg was looking for the renowned chemist Robert Bunsen to supervise the university’s chemistry department. To persuade him, they made an agreement to develop a brand new chemistry lab on the campus. When the laboratory was being built Bunsen in tandem with another famous instrument designer of Germany Peter Desaga started developing paradigms for gas-based lab burner. With the mixture of gas with oxygen prior to combustion under a well-calculated ratio, they were able to design a burner that produced a hot flame without black substances like a soot-free flame. This German invention went on to become popular laboratory equipment as it simplified the heating, sterilization and combustion process in Chemistry labs.

Electron Microscope

The first electron microscope being carefully checked by Ernst Ruska... |  Download Scientific Diagram
Courtesy: ResearchGate

One of the popular German inventions in the past century has been the Electron Microscope. Through it, a person can magnify any matter or object up to 10,000,000 times from its normal size. In the year 1931, famous German physicist Ernst Ruska with a German electrical engineer Max Knoll designed the first-ever electron microscope. The first prototypes lacked the capability to magnify an object like an optical microscope. As the years passed, Ruska and Knoll made substantial improvements in the efficiency of the microscope. This microscope is fitted with powerful electrostatic and electromagnetic lenses to create an image by regulating the amount of electron beam that falls on the object to be magnified. You can view tiny matters like atoms through the electron microscope.

Printing Press

The Invention and History of the Printing Press
Courtesy: Interesting Engineering

Another crucial mention in our list of greatest German inventions, the Printing press is one of the earliest inventions that led to the printing of books, newspapers, magazines. etc. It was a politically intense time throughout the world when the technology of printing was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the year 1456. It allowed the metal alloy to melt and cool down very quickly and to create long-lasting oil type ink. It was mostly a viscous liquid that clinched to the metal and was subsequently easier to move onto the press and the paper. Press was required to squash strong pressure to the printable surface to produce texts. First-ever published book in Europe from the printing press was ‘The Gutenberg Bible‘, was termed as 42-line Bible, as well as the Mazarin Bible and also just B42. It marked the beginning of the Gutenberg Revolution and also the start of printing books in Europe and also brought a wave of revolution in a time when many countries were struggling with colonisation and suppression of human rights.

Radar System

The ex-WWII radar antenna at Georges Heights field station that was... |  Download Scientific Diagram
Courtesy: ResearchGate

It was first indicated by James Clerk Maxwell in his groundbreaking work on electromagnetism that building of radar-like systems is possible. It was materialized only at the outset of the 20th century that different instruments and gadgets made use of electromagnetic principles with German scientist Christian Hülsmeyer developing a ship detection system primarily aimed to guide ships safely through the sea haze. Designing such systems which allowed the production of small radio energy pulses was an important step towards the creation of contemporary radar systems. Amongst the popular German inventions in Marine Engineering and Aerospace Engineering, Radar systems picked up quick progress during World War II and were the key element that steered the Allies toward success. 

Helicopter 

The Heinrich Focke Fa 61
Courtesy: Century of Flight

One of the most significant German inventions that the country has provided to the world is the helicopter. In the 1930s, engineer Heinrich Focke began research on helicopters. In 1932, he conducted a study on the challenges of rotary-winged flight control and developed a small model helicopter. But it took him four years to display his first completely controlled helicopter in Berlin in 1936.

Gummy Bears

Courtesy: How It’s Made

Next on our list of the greatest German inventions is a cult favorite among both children and adults! In the palm of your hand, a beautiful, bright, small little bear. We all must have tonnes of childhood memories attached to gummy bears. A sweet, tiny little colorful candy is definitely one of kind. Hans Riegel invented one of Germany’s most popular sweets in 1922. He was born in Bonn and founded the confectionery firm HARIBO, an abbreviation based on his name: HAns RIegel of Bonn.

Glider 

Otto Lilienthal′s ultimate sacrifice - what really brought down the Glider  King | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW |  09.08.2016
Courtesy: DW

Otto Lilienthal became the first flier in history with his glider in 1894, thanks to his groundbreaking research on artificial wings and his superb craftsmanship. He died tragically on a test flight in 1896. The Wright brothers in the United States extensively examined his wing designs, which led to the creation of the powered airplane.

Fanta

Courtesy: Business Insider

Fanta was created in Germany in 1940 as a Coca-Cola alternative owing to Nazi Germany’s American trade blockade, which limited the supply of Coca-Cola components. Never one to back down from a challenge, Max Keith, the head of Coca-Cola in Germany, chose to develop and invent a new product for the German market using local ingredients like pomace (fruit leftovers) and whey. As a result, Fanta became one of the best and most successful German inventions. Fanta quickly dominated the German market, selling three million cans in 1943. Fanta’s present formulation was created in Italy in 1955.

Coffee Filter 

Our founder Melitta Bentz was a housewife who became a successful  entrepreneur when she invented the coffee paper filter! #Mel… | Coffee  paper, Enjoy coffee, Coffee
Courtesy: Pinterest

Melitta Bentz, a Dresden housewife, grabbed her moment in 1908 when contemplating why her coffee was always over-brewed and bitter. She wanted to eliminate the harsh flavor created by boiling loose grinds or using the traditional linen technique of brewing coffee. Bentz patented the invention after realizing she could make a more delightful cup by filtering away the loose grounds with an improvised paper filter, and the family firm, Melitta Group KG, now employs about 3,300 people.

Hence, we hope that this blog helped you explore the earliest and greatest German inventions which brought technological advancements and changed the world! Planning to study in Germany? Our Leverage Edu experts are here to guide you throughout the process of exploring the best course and university combinations and sorting out the admission procedure as well! Sign up for a free session with us today!

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