Famous German Inventors & Discoverers

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Have you ever wondered what would your wardrobe be sans your favourite pair of blue jeans? Miserably poor, isn’t it? Jeans has become such an inevitable part of the wardrobe that its existence has been taken for granted. When that blue denim fabric is out of sight, we do get down in the dumps feeling. Now imagine life without motorcycle or a bicycle. Definitely, childhood and teenage life wouldn’t be the same without the ride-on! What if those scary spectacles never went off the face of anyone who had weak eyesight? Wearing specs for fashion may be in but having the glasses always on the nose can be quite disgusting especially when you are dressed to kill. For all of the above and much more, you only need to thank the Germans. German inventors and discoverers have made the planet a better place to live in with their inventions and discoveries. Telescope, Bunsen burner, globe, thermometer, x-ray, printing press with movable type and Geiger counter are gifts by German inventors to the world. And that isn’t all, for Germans are responsible for much more. The MP3, accordion, air bags, lithography, carabiners, useful office supplies like ring binders, glue stick, hole punches and ink erasers were invented by the Germans. Check this segment to know more about famous German inventors and discoverers.
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 1 
Johannes Gutenberg
(German Inventor and Printer Who Introduced Printing to Europe With His Mechanical Movable-Type Printing Press)
Johannes Gutenberg
7
Birthdate: 1400 AD
Birthplace: Mainz, Germany
Died: February 3, 1468

Credit goes to Johannes Gutenberg for transforming book-making from manuscripts to the printed form as he introduced the movable-type printing press in the 15th century. The German printer and publisher’s invention contributed to mass communication during the Renaissance. He was not successful in his business and was exiled during the later years of his life.  He was also a goldsmith.

 2 
Wilhelm Rontgen
(German Mechanical Engineer and Winner of the 1901 Nobel Prize in Physics)
Wilhelm Rontgen
5
Birthdate: March 27, 1845
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lennep, Remscheid, Germany
Died: February 10, 1923

Wilhelm Rontgen was a German physicist and mechanical engineer. He is best remembered for producing and detecting X-rays for which he was honored with the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901. His discovery of X-rays remains one of the greatest achievements in the field of medical science.

 3 
Rudolf Diesel
(Inventor of Diesel Engine)
Rudolf Diesel
5
Birthdate: March 18, 1858
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 29, 1913

Rudolf Diesel was a German mechanical engineer and inventor best remembered for inventing the Diesel engine. After Diesel's demise, his engine became an important substitution for the steam piston engine. The engine became widespread in applications, such as agricultural machines, submarines, ships, and trucks. His life inspired the 1942 biographical film Diesel, in which he was played by Willy Birgel.

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 4 
Wernher Von Braun
(Known as Father of Rocket Science)
Wernher Von Braun
4
Birthdate: March 23, 1912
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wyrzysk, Poland
Died: June 16, 1977

German-born American aerospace engineer and space architect, Wernher Von Braun, worked in Nazi Germany's rocket development program as a young man. After World War II, he moved to the United States where he became a pioneer of rocket and space technology in the nation. In his later career, he became director of the newly formed Marshall Space Flight Center.

 5 
Gottlieb Daimler
5
Birthdate: March 17, 1834
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Schorndorf, Germany
Died: March 6, 1900

Gottlieb Daimler was a German engineer, industrialist, and industrial designer. A pioneer of automobile development and internal combustion engines, Daimler is credited with inventing the liquid petroleum-fueled engine. In 1978, Gottlieb Daimler was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

 6 
Otto Lilienthal
(German Aeronautical Engineer Who Completed Successful Glider Flights for the First Time)
Otto Lilienthal
3
Birthdate: May 23, 1848
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Anklam, Germany
Died: August 10, 1896

German aeronautical engineer Otto Lilienthal became the first known person to use gliders for a successful flight. A mechanical engineer, he owned a shop and flight factory and developed gliders, with which he completed around 2,000 flights. Lilienthal, however, died after breaking his back in a glider crash.

 7 
John B. Goodenough
4
Birthdate: July 25, 1922
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Jena, Germany

John B. Goodenough is an American solid-state physicist and materials scientist. He is credited with developing the lithium-ion battery. In 2019, he became the oldest person to receive a Nobel Prize when he was honored with the prestigious award for his work on lithium-ion batteries. He is also a recipient of the Copley Medal and the National Medal of Science.

 8 
Hermann von Helmholtz
(Physicist and Physician)
Hermann von Helmholtz
3
Birthdate: August 31, 1821
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Potsdam
Died: September 8, 1894

A descendant of Pennsylvania founder William Penn through his mother, Hermann von Helmholtz studied medicine, pushed by his father, in spite of being interested in the natural sciences. Best known for his law of conservation of energy, he coalesced the fields of medicine, physiology, math, and physics in his studies.

 9 
Joseph Pilates
(Physical Trainer and Inventor of the 'Pilates' Method of Physical Fitness)
Joseph Pilates
3
Birthdate: December 9, 1883
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Mönchengladbach, Germany
Died: October 9, 1967

Joseph Pilates was a German physical trainer. He is credited with developing and popularizing the Pilates method of physical training. Originally a bodybuilder and gymnast, Pilates studied the movements of animals, especially cats, and modeled his fitness training based on this. He was featured in a documentary movie titled A Movement of Movement.

 10 
Karl Benz
(Entrepreneur)
Karl Benz
3
Birthdate: November 25, 1844
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Mühlburg, Karlsruhe, Germany
Died: April 4, 1929

Karl Benz was a German engine designer, automotive engineer, and entrepreneur.  He designed the Benz Patent Motorcar, for which he received a patent in 1886. He studied mechanical engineering at the University of Karlsruhe before venturing into developing motorcars. His Benz Patent Motorcar is widely regarded as the world's first production automobile. 

 11 
Emile Berliner
(Inventor)
Emile Berliner
3
Birthdate: May 20, 1851
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hanover, Germany
Died: August 3, 1929
 12 
Robert Bosch
(Entrepreneur, Inventor, Artisan)
Robert Bosch
3
Birthdate: September 23, 1861
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Felkirchen
Died: March 12, 1942

The founder of the German engineering and technological MNC Bosch, Robert Bosch was born to a farmer in a south Germany village. He is also remembered as one of the first Germans to introduce 8-hour work days. He also invented the high-voltage spark plug and magneto for automobiles.

 13 
Gunther von Hagens
(German Anatomist Best Known for Inventing 'Plastination' and Establishing the 'Body Worlds' Exhibition)
Gunther von Hagens
3
Birthdate: January 10, 1945
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Alt-Skalden, Reichsgau Wartheland, Germany

German anatomist and physician Gunther von Hagens is best known for inventing plastination, or a unique method of preserving human body tissue after death. He also started the Body Worlds exhibition, to display dissections, and later established permanent exhibitions. He has also been dragged into legal hassles for using corpses illegally.

 14 
Ralph H. Baer
(German-American Inventor, Game Developer, and Engineer Best Known for Developing the First Video Game System)
Ralph H. Baer
3
Birthdate: March 8, 1922
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Rodalben, Germany
Died: December 6, 2014

Born to a German Jewish family, Ralph H. Baer and his family escaped to New York later. He went from working in a factory to becoming an engineer. While working at Sanders Associates, he developed the idea of playing games on TV and later created the first video game console.

 15 
Wilhelm Maybach
(German Automobile Designer Known for Designing the Initial Mercedes Cars, and Founder of 'Maybach')
Wilhelm Maybach
3
Birthdate: February 9, 1846
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Heilbronn
Died: December 29, 1929

German engineer and auto designer Wilhelm Maybach once earned the nickname The King of Designers. He collaborated with Gottlieb Daimler and formed Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft, eventually designing the first Mercedes automobiles. He and his son later started an aircraft engine company. In 1996, he was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

 16 
Werner von Siemens
3
Birthdate: December 13, 1816
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Gehrden
Died: December 6, 1892

German electrical engineer Werner von Siemens is remembered as a pioneer of the telegraph industry. The founder of Siemens also inspired the name to the SI unit of electrical conductance. He was part of the Prussian army and had begun his chemistry experiments while in prison for a minor crime.

 17 
Justus von Liebig
(German Chemist Who is Considered One of the Principal Founders of Organic Chemistry)
Justus von Liebig
3
Birthdate: May 12, 1803
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Darmstadt, Germany
Died: April 18, 1873

German chemist Justus von Liebig is best known for his research on organic compounds and his contribution to biochemistry and agriculture. The Copley Medal-winning scientist initially studied pharmacy but later switched to chemistry. As a professor, he stressed on laboratory-based teaching of chemistry and separating it from pharmacy, opposing traditional methods.

 18 
Felix Wankel
(Inventor, Engineer, Politician)
Felix Wankel
2
Birthdate: August 13, 1902
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lahr
Died: October 9, 1988
 19 
Charles Proteus Steinmetz
(German Mathematician and Engineer Whose Research on AC Systems Revolutionized the US Electric Industry)
Charles Proteus Steinmetz
3
Birthdate: April 9, 1865
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wrocław
Died: October 26, 1923

Though German-born American mathematician and engineer Charles Proteus Steinmetz suffered from a deformed back since childhood, he excelled in math, physics, and classical literature. His ideas on alternating current (AC) systems initiated the electrical era in the US. By the time he died, he had over 200 patents under his name.

 20 
Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner
(German Chemist Best Known for Inventing the First Lighter)
Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner
3
Birthdate: December 13, 1780
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hof, Germany
Died: March 24, 1849

German chemist Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner was born amid poverty but managed to get training as an apothecary. After his university education, he taught at the University of Jena. His discovery of the fact that certain chemical elements were similar later led to the development of the periodic law of chemistry.

 21 
Hans Geiger
(Physicist)
Hans Geiger
3
Birthdate: September 30, 1882
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Neustadt, Germany
Died: September 24, 1945
 22 
Hugo Junkers
(Engineer)
Hugo Junkers
3
Birthdate: February 3, 1859
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rheydt, Rhine Province, Kingdom of Prussia
Died: February 3, 1935
 23 
Peter Henlein
(watchmaker, inventor)
Peter Henlein
3
Birthdate: 1485 AD
Birthplace: Nuremberg
Died: July 31, 1542
 24 
Gustave Whitehead
(Aerospace engineer, Engineer)
Gustave Whitehead
3
Birthdate: January 1, 1874
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Leutershausen
Died: October 10, 1927
 25 
Otto von Guericke
(Scientist and politician who established the physics of vacuums and discovered an experimental method for clearly demonstrating electrostatic repulsion.)
Otto von Guericke
3
Birthdate: November 30, 1602
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Magdeburg, Germany
Died: May 21, 1686

Otto von Guericke was a German inventor, scientist, and politician. He made several significant contributions to the development of the Scientific Revolution. He is also credited with inventing the first air pump which he used effectively to study the phenomenon of vacuum. His studies and observation helped reveal the fact that light unlike sound can travel through a vacuum.

 26 
Hugo Schmeisser
(Inventor, Engineer)
Hugo Schmeisser
3
Birthdate: September 24, 1884
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Jena
Died: September 12, 1953
 27 
Karl Ferdinand Braun
(German Electrical Engineer Who Made Significant Contribution to the Development of Radio and Television Technology)
Karl Ferdinand Braun
3
Birthdate: June 6, 1850
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Fulda, Germany
Died: April 20, 1918

Karl Ferdinand Braun was a German electrical engineer, inventor, and physicist. He made significant contributions to the development of radio and TV technology. In 1909, he jointly received the Nobel Prize in Physics with Guglielmo Marconi for their contribution to the development of wireless telegraphy. His work led to the later development of radar, smart antennas, and MIMO. 

 28 
Karl Drais
(Inventor, Forester)
Karl Drais
3
Birthdate: April 29, 1785
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Karlsruhe
Died: December 10, 1851
 29 
Hans von Ohain
(Physicist)
Hans von Ohain
3
Birthdate: December 14, 1911
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dessau, Duchy of Anhalt, Germany
Died: March 13, 1998
 30 
Hennig Brand
(German Alchemist Who Discovered the Chemical Element 'Phosphorus')
Hennig Brand
3
Birthdate: 1630 AD
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: 1710 AD

Apart from being an army officer and a physician, Hennig Brand was also an alchemist who was constantly looking for the mythical philosopher’s stone. His research led him to discover phosphorus by accident, which he kept a secret, though it was later formally discovered by Robert Boyle from England.

 31 
Johann Philipp Reis
(Physicist, Inventor)
Johann Philipp Reis
3
Birthdate: January 7, 1834
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Gelnhausen
Died: January 14, 1874
 32 
Alfred Einstein
(Physicist)
Alfred Einstein
2
Birthdate: March 14, 1879
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: April 18, 1955
 33 
Ernst Ruska
(Inventor of Electron Microscope)
Ernst Ruska
4
Birthdate: December 25, 1906
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Heidelberg
Died: May 27, 1988

Ernst Ruska was a German physicist whose work in electron optics earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986. His work led to the discovery of electron microscope, which plays a key role in the field of medical science. From 1957 to 1974, Ernst Ruska also worked at the Technical University of Berlin where he taught several students.

 34 
Felix Hoffmann
(Chemist, Inventor, Pharmacist, Non-fiction writer)
Felix Hoffmann
2
Birthdate: January 21, 1868
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ludwigsburg
Died: February 8, 1946

Felix Hoffmann was a German chemist best remembered for re-synthesizing diamorphine, which was later popularized as heroin. Hoffmann is also known for synthesizing aspirin, although it is still unclear whether he synthesized it on his own or under the direction of Arthur Eichengrün. In 2002, Felix Hoffmann was inducted into the US National Inventors Hall of Fame. 

 35 
Siegfried Marcus
(Former inventor who built four of the world’s earliest gasoline-powered automobiles)
Siegfried Marcus
2
Birthdate: September 18, 1831
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Malchin, Germany
Died: July 1, 1898

Starting his career as a mechanic at age 12, Siegfried Marcus grew up to be one of the most legendary engineers and manufacturers of his time. His experimental creation, known as Marcus's second car, was the first automobile with a four-cycle engine and the first that used gasoline as fuel.

 36 
Carl Wilhelm Siemens
(German-British Electrical Engineer and Businessman)
Carl Wilhelm Siemens
2
Birthdate: April 4, 1823
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Gehrden, Germany
Died: November 19, 1883

German-British inventor and electrical engineer, who revolutionized the steel-making and glass-making industries, is best remembered for using the Siemens-Martin process to create the regenerative furnace. His achievements earned him accolades such as the Albert Medal. He was a Fellow of The Royal Society and was knighted shortly before his death.

 37 
Wilhelm Schickard
2
Birthdate: April 22, 1592
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Herrenberg, Germany
Died: October 24, 1635
 38 
Karlheinz Brandenburg
(Inventor, Engineer, Audio engineer, University teacher)
Karlheinz Brandenburg
2
Birthdate: June 20, 1954
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Erlangen
 39 
Gerd Binnig
(Physicist)
Gerd Binnig
2
Birthdate: July 20, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Nobel Prize-winning German physicist Gerd Binnig invented the scanning tunneling microscope, with fellow Nobel laureate Heinrich Rohrer. As a child, he devoted a lot of time to music, playing the violin and performing for an orchestra. He spent most of his scientific career with the IBM research team.

 40 
Walter H. Schottky
2
Birthdate: July 23, 1886
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland
Died: March 4, 1976
 41 
Paul Gottlieb Nipkow
2
Birthdate: August 22, 1860
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lębork, Poland
Died: August 24, 1940
 42 
Theobald Boehm
(Inventor)
Theobald Boehm
2
Birthdate: April 9, 1794
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: November 27, 1881
 43 
Alois Senefelder
(Actor and playwright who invented the printing technique of lithography in the 1790s)
Alois Senefelder
2
Birthdate: November 6, 1771
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Prague, Czechia
Died: February 26, 1834
 44 
Oskar Barnack
(German Inventor and Designer of the First Precision Miniature Camera)
Oskar Barnack
4
Birthdate: November 1, 1879
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lynow, Germany
Died: January 16, 1936

Oskar Barnack was a German photographer and inventor. He is credited with building a device, which would later become the first successful 35mm still-camera. Barnack developed the camera, which was named Leica, at the Leitz Company where he was working as an engineer. Oskar Barnack is also credited with creating news images, which he made with his 35 mm camera.

 45 
Anton Flettner
(Engineer)
Anton Flettner
2
Birthdate: November 1, 1885
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hattersheim am Main, Germany
Died: December 29, 1961
 46 
Claudius Dornier
2
Birthdate: May 14, 1884
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kempten, Germany
Died: December 5, 1969
 47 
Christian Friedrich Schönbein
(German-Swiss Chemist Best Known for Inventing the 'Fuel Cell')
Christian Friedrich Schönbein
2
Birthdate: October 18, 1799
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Metzingen, Germany
Died: August 29, 1868

German chemist Christian Friedrich Schönbein is best remembered for his discovery of ozone and the fuel cell. He also discovered guncotton, or nitrocellulose, as a result of a kitchen accident. He was an apprentice at a chemical firm at 13 and grew up to teach at the at the University of Basel.

 48 
Ottmar Mergenthaler
2
Birthdate: May 11, 1854
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bad Mergentheim, Germany
Died: October 28, 1899
 49 
Hans Lippershey
(optician, physicist, inventor)
Hans Lippershey
3
Birthdate: 1570 AD
Birthplace: Wesel
Died: August 31, 1619
 50 
Ernst Stuhlinger
(Scientist)
Ernst Stuhlinger
1
Birthdate: December 19, 1913
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Niederrimbach, Germany
Died: May 25, 2008