Feb 19, 2016

Ten German Inventions

MP3 - A German inventor, Karlheinz Brandenburg is responsible for an invention that has revolutionized how we listen to music.

Ring binder, ink eraser, hole punch, glue stick - Confirming the stereotype that Germans like to keep orderly records of everything, some of the most useful office supplies have been invented by Germans. Friedrich Soennecken invented ring binders and hole punches in the late 19th Century. Another German, Louis Leitz, then improved on the invention by putting a finger hole in the binder to make it easier to remove from a crowded shelf.

Aspirin - The world's favorite painkiller 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 the First World War, 12,000 of the 50,000 tons of aspirin produced each year are still made by Bayer.

Carabiner - The most important piece of gear in any climber’s equipment was invented by Otto Herzog, a Bavarian climber and inventor. The carabiner has many uses, but this metal loop with a spring-loaded gate is most commonly used to allow a climber to safely scale or descend a steep cliff with the aid of a rope.

Lithography - Invented by Alois Senefelder in Bavaria in 1796, lithography has given the world some of its finest art. Most famously, Edvard (sic) Munch used the printing technique, but Picasso, Monet, Manet and more have also used the technique.

Accordion - When asked to think of Germany, one often thinks of a portly man wearing lederhosen, and a green hat, playing folk tunes on a huge accordion. In fact, early versions of the instrument date back to third century BC China. But the first 'true' 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'.

X-ray machine - The first X-ray machine was invented by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, physics chair at the University of Würzburg. He apparently discovered the unknown radiation, which he marked with an x, while investigating cathode rays. He noticed that the radiation could pass through human tissue, but not bones.

Contact lens - Although Leonardo da Vinci is said to have been the first man to come up with the idea of a contact lens, it was a German by the name of Adolf Gaston Eugen Fick who first made a contact lens and successfully fitted it to the human eye. Fick’s prototype is could only be worn for an hour or two at a time due to its unwieldy size.

Playmobil - Playmobil was invented by Hans Beck in the 1970s with the idea to make a flexible toy that was still simple enough for young children to understand. With the original toys being an American Indian, a cowboy, and a builder, the little figures were a hit as soon as they came on the market.

Airbag - Walter Linderer came up with the idea of using compressed air in a bag which would inflate when the bumpers of two cars made contact. He patented it in 1951, although his design did not inflate fast enough and had little practical value at the time.