25 Greatest German Inventions that Changed the World

7 minute read
German Inventions

When the world wars and political turmoil were striking the world, Germany was churning out new inventions, one after another. The country has been an epicentre of intellectual revolutions and a home to geniuses like Karl Marx and Albert Einstein and other 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 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 InventionsInventorDate
Diesel EngineRudolf Diesel1896
The Bunsen BurnerRobert Bunsen1855
The Electron MicroscopeErnst Ruska, Max Knoll1931
The Contact LensThomas Young1801
The Printing PressJohannes Gutenberg1456
Radar SystemChristian Hülsmeyer1904
Atomic Force MicroscopeGerd Binnig1980
Rocket-Powered AircraftAlexander Lippisch1928
AirbagWalter Linderer1951
SpeedometerOtto Schultze1902
AdidasAdolf (Adi) Dassler1920
Aspirin Bayer 1897
Automobile Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler1886
Beer Wilhelm IV and Ludwig X 1516
Bicycle Karl von Drais1817
Chip CardJürgen Dethloff and Helmut Göttrup1969
Programmable computerKonrad Zuse1941
Glider Otto Lilienthal1894 
Gummi BearHans Riegel1922 
Helicopter Heinrich Focke1936
MP3Karlheinz Brandenburg1993
Fanta Max Keith1941
Coffee filterMelitta Bentz 1908
Adhesive tapeOscar Troplowitz1901 
AccordionChristian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann1822 

Diesel Engine

German inventions
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

In the year 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 from Germany – Peter Desaga, started developing paradigms for gas-based lab burners. 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

Free scientific microscope image, public domain CC0 photo.

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 matter like atoms through the electron microscope.

Printing Press

German inventions
Courtesy: Interesting Engineering

Another crucial mention in our list of greatest German inventions is the Printing press. It 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. The press was required to squash strong pressure on the printable surface to produce text. First-ever published book in Europe from the printing press was ‘The Gutenberg Bible’, which was termed a 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 at a time when many countries were struggling with colonisation and suppression of human rights.

Radar System

It was first indicated by James Clerk Maxwell in his groundbreaking work on electromagnetism that building 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 were the Radar systems which picked up quick progress during World War II and were the key element that steered the Allies toward success. 


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

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.


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.


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 

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.


What inventions are Germany known for?

Germany is known for several inventions such as the invention of Electron microscope, Printing press, Radar system, Diesel engine,Bunsen burner, Airbags, Atomic force microscope, Speedometer.

What are 5 German discoveries?

Some of the popular German discoveries include – the invention of contact lenses by Thomas Young, The Printing Press by Johannes Gutenberg, Radar System by Christian Hülsmeyer, Atomic Force Microscope by Gerd Binnig, and Airbag by Walter Linderer

What did Germany invent first?

One of the first things invented by Germans was the movable printing press. It was founded in 1450 by Johannes Gutenberg.

We hope you liked our blog, where we tried to cover important German inventions over the years that changed the world forever. Are you also looking for opportunities to study abroad? If the answer is yes, the experts at Leverage Edu can make your journey easier as they will be guiding you throughout the process. To take help from the experts simply register on our website or call us at 1800-572-000.

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