Showing posts with label German. Show all posts
Showing posts with label German. Show all posts

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.

Jul 18, 2014


College students have loved beer for centuries. They are also generally very smart. In one fit of brilliance, students invented biernagels (beer-nails).

These are metal studs placed on the covers of books to keep the leather covers away from wet (spilled beer) pub tables. With biernagels on it, a book cover is raised half a centimeter from the surface of the table, and thus remains mostly dry. From the name, we can only assume it was some inventive German students.

May 30, 2014

German Inventions

Although it has now been replaced by the Celsius temperature scale in almost all countries except for USA and Belize, Fahrenheit (in which water's freezing point is 32 degrees and boiling point is 212) was the world standard until relatively recently. It was invented by German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit in 1724.

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

After using blotting paper from her children’s school books to remove unwanted coffee grounds, Dresden housewife Melitta Bentz had the idea to patent her invention in 1908. She then founded a company selling over a thousand coffee filters by the next year.

German clock manufacturer Junghans Uhren Gmbh developed a watch that automatically adjusts itself to an atomic clock using radio signals. It was invented in 1990 and will remain accurate to the second for at least a million years.

The first true working car was invented by Germans Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler in 1886, 22 years before the Model T Ford went into production in the USA.

The first true accordion was invented by a German, Christian Friedrich Buschmann. In 1822 he attached bellows to a portable keyboard with vibrating reeds and called it a "hand-aeoline".

In 1977 after nine years of development, German inventors Jürgen Dethloff and Helmut Göttrup created the first card with a built in programmable microprocessor, the ancestor of the chip and PIN cards in our wallets today.

Aug 25, 2012

Picnics and Barbecues

Just about all the ingredients to make a perfect ‘All-American’ picnic come from German origins.

There is the hot dog, wiener, or a Frankfurter; a pork sausage that originated in 13th century Germany. We also cannot forget the Brats or Bratwurst and Knackwurst, both great grilled. All of these washed down with a chilled beer, while not originating in Germany, was certainly made popular there many years ago.

Ketchup was developed by Heinz, and Mayonnaise, developed by Hellman, both German immigrants. Some of those items are based off earlier recipes (Ancient Rome: ketchup; France: mayonnaise) but the favorites eaten today are definitely German.

Then, of course, there is the Potato Salad. There are many different versions to this dish, one of the most popular variations is the traditional German potato salad.

Jul 20, 2012

Going Dutch

Some pejorative expressions using Dutch were created through cultural enmity between the English and the Dutch during their fight for naval supremacy in the seventeenth century. Some included: Dutch reckoning (a bill presented without any details and which gets bigger if you argue), Dutch widow (a prostitute) and Dutch feast (an alcohol-fueled event in which the host gets drunk ahead of his guests).

Others, including Dutch courage and Dutch uncle, Going Dutch, Dutch lunch, Dutch treat, Dutch party, and Dutch supper, all with closely similar meanings, are American creations from the nineteenth century.

They were used in the literal sense of a meal reflecting a particular culture. The evidence shows they were more correctly German, as in Pennsylvania Dutch. A newspaper report in 1894 mentions that for a Dutch supper to be successful everything must be “consistently expressive of the fatherland” and mentions rye bread, cabbage salad, Wienerwursts (hot dogs), and beer. Americans invented the terms based on their observations of the habits of the immigrants. Early users applied them as straightforward descriptions and not as derogatory terms. So, let's do lunch, Dutch treat.