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Carl Zeiss

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Carl Friedrich Zeiss was born on September 11th of 1816 in Weimar, Germany. He was the fifth child of twelve. Carl Zeiss completed school up until he was given the opportunity to take a special exam. This exam allowed Zeiss to graduate and go on to study natural science at a university. While attending the University of Jena, Zeiss also apprenticed beneath Dr. Friedrich Körne. His apprenticeship taught him the in’s and out’s of being a court mechanic and private lecturer. After the first year of his apprenticeship, Carl was able to attend one science and one math lecture per semester. He completed the apprenticeship in 1838—leaving highly recommended.

Carl goes on to travel from 1838 to 1845, seeing all over Austria and Germany. During his travels he stops in Vienna, where he lectures about mechanics. In 1845, Carl decided to continue his education. Resuming study at Jean University, he focused on mathematics and chemistry. While studying he also made money with a side project, building, selling, and repairing all types of chemical and physical tools—including items such as telescopes, microscopes, scales, thermometers, and more. This became less of a side project as business continued to grow. This growth allowed Zeiss to expand his workshop, hire assistance, and take on apprentices in 1847.

Zeiss continued his working, focusing on producing microscopes. By 1861, Carl’s work was earning awards. In 1863, he was named the court mechanic of Jena University. It was in 1866 that we saw the beginnings of collaborations for the Carl Zeiss, the lens company that we know today. Carl paired up with Ernst Abbe, and they set themselves to perfect the craft. By 1872 they had a plan for production that they used for their first sales. Just four years later the company had already sold 3,000 microscopes. In addition to great microscopes, the company was also attributed with pioneering insurance—developing a medical insurance program for employees in 1875.

Zeiss was married first in 1849, to Bertha Schatter. She died during childbirth. Carl remarried in 1853. He has four children altogether from both marriages. In 1885 Carl’s health took a turn for the worse, suffering from his first stroke. One year later, 1886, Zeiss had weakened. He suffered from a series of more strokes in 1888 before passing away on December 3rd, 1888.

Companies and Investments

Carl Zeiss (Founder), Dr. Friedrich Körne (Apprentice)

Lessons Learned

Treating your employees properly can go a long way in business. In my experience, I have found that happy employees feel more inclined to put in their full effort. When people feel they are mistreated, they feel less inclined to perform. This means there is direct connection between the happiness of your employees, and the success of your company. I think that make’s their happiness pretty important. Some ways in my work that I have found we can better employees’ lives is by providing insurance. Guaranteeing medical treatment to hardworking people is very important. I care about my employees’ health, and in turn—they care about our company’s success.

Inspiring Quotes

Politics is applied biology.

Ernst Haeckel

We could imagine nothing pleasanter than to spend all of our lives digging for relics of the past.

Heinrich Schliemann

Carl Zeiss's Quotes

It was in the Seventies but I still recall what was a good night for my club. Of course, the stadium has changed now but I have heard that the atmosphere is still the same.

Carl Zeiss

I remember the great atmosphere and the great stadium.

Carl Zeiss

Influential Books

Mentors

Robert Koch

References


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