Germany is mostly known for its beer and environmental friendliness, but did you know that the country boasts some of the world’s most famous inventions?
Johannes Gutenberg, Ferdinand Porsche, and Karl Benz are just a few of the famous engineers, inventors, and scientists who hail from Germany.
From everyday household items to lifesaving medical devices to luxury automobiles, these German inventors have created some of the most useful inventions, many of which are still used today.
1. Bayer Aspirin
Every time you reach for a bottle of aspirin to soothe your headache, you can thank German chemist, Felix Hoffmann. Hoffmann first created the pain-fighting formula to help his aligning father, and then later patented it in February of 1900.
While there’s speculation around who’s responsible for inventing the automobile, German engineer Karl Benz was the first to create what is the basis for today’s most popular mode of transportation. In 1885, Benz developed the first automobile powered by gasoline.
In 1870, Robert Koch discovered bacteria after livestock throughout Europe was affected by a mysterious disease. Without Koch’s discovery, many of the world’s health problems may have continued.
In 1822, German inventor Christian Friedrich Buschmann created the first basic model of the accordion. This beloved musical instrument remains a staple in German culture, and is most often used in German folk music.
5. Gummy Bears
After seeing trained bears at festivals across Germany, German entrepreneur Hans Riegel was inspired to create the deliciously sweet, chewy gummy bears in the early 1920’s. Riegel’s candy company, Haribo, continues to make gummy bears to this day.
6. Christmas Tree
The tradition of the Christmas tree started in Germany during the Renaissance. Typically, the tree was decorated with apples, nuts, and other foods. It wasn’t until the 18th century when illuminated candles were added.
7. Contact Lenses
Dr. Adolf Gaston Eugen Fick, a German ophthalmologist, constructed and fitted what was considered the very first contact lens in 1887. Made from heavy brown glass, Fick tested the contact lenses on rabbits before fitting them to human eyes.
Levi Strauss, a German-American businessman, and Jacob Davis first patented jeans in 1873. Manufactured by Strauss’s company, dubbed Levi Strauss & Co., blue jeans were originally designed for cowboys and miners.
Meaning “children’s garden” in German, this early education institution was first introduced by German pedagogy Friedrich Fröbel in 1837. Fröbel’s notion was that young children’s minds should be nurtured and nourished like plants in a garden.
10. Printing Press
While Chinese monks are cited as creating the first concept of the printing press, it was German inventor and blacksmith Johannes Gutenberg who introduced printing to Europe. Gutenberg’s “movable type printing” technology enabled the mass production of books.
In 1817, Baron Karl von Drais invented the Laufmaschine—German for “running machine”— the first commercially successful two-wheeled, human-propelled machine made from wood. The French would later add pedals to the contraption.
12. Easter Bunny
The Easter Bunny is a figure that originated in Germany in 1682. Traditionally, it was thought that the “Easter Hare” would judge whether children displayed good or bad behavior at the start of the spring season.
Discovered by German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen in 1895, the x-ray is popularly used throughout the medical community. Röntgen actually invented the x-ray by accident while experimenting with electrical current through glass cathode-ray tubes.
14. Record Player and Records
German inventor, Emile Berliner, picked up where Edison left off in creating the gramophone, also known as the very first record player. A gramophone plays records or discs with grooves that are amplified by a needle.
While the French chef of Duke de Richelieu first created mayonnaise in 1756, it was German immigrant Richard Hellmann who brought the classic deli condiment to the masses in 1905. Hellmann later went on to start the popular mayonnaise empire, Hellmann’s.
16. Coffee Filters
Amalie Auguste Melitta Bentz, a German entrepreneur, invented the coffee filter in 1908. As a housewife, Bentz was frustrated about over-brewing the coffee, so she experimented with different types of paper and later invented what’s known today as the coffee filter.
There’s a very good chance that you use one or two of the German inventions mentioned above in your everyday life. Learning about these German inventions is a great way to supplement your German lessons and learn more about the country’s history.