Carl Zeiss

Infobox Scientist
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birth_date = September 11, 1816
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death_date = December 3, 1888
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field = optics
work_institutions = Zeiss
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known_for = lens
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Carl Zeiss (September 11, 1816 – December 3, 1888) was an optician commonly known for the company he founded, Carl Zeiss AG. Zeiss himself also made a few contributions to lens manufacturing that have aided the modern production of lenses. Raised in Weimar, Germany, he became a notable lens maker in the 1840s when he created high quality lenses that were "wide open", or in other words, had a very large aperture range that allowed for very clear images. He did this in the city of Jena at a self opened workshop, where he started his lens making career. At first his lenses were only used in the production of microscopes but when cameras were invented, his company (Zeiss) began manufacturing high quality lenses for cameras. He died in Jena on the 3rd of December 1888.


Zeiss began his life in pre-imperial Germany where he went to a grammar school, and undertook apprenticeship under Dr. Friedrich Körner, mechanic and supplier to the court. He later attended lectures in mathematics, experimental physics, anthropology, mineralogy and optics at Jena University. After seven years he opened a small workshop by himself with hardly any tools. He made many lenses but had little recognition until 1847 when he hired his second and third apprentice. The same year his former master, Dr.Anthony Marc Körner died, inspiring Zeiss to devote his life to working in the area of microscopes.


In 1847 Carl Zeiss started making microscopes full-time. His first innovation was making simpler microscopes that only used one lens, and were therefore only intended for dissecting work. He sold around 23 of them in his first year of production. He soon decided that he needed a new challenge so he began making compound microscopes. He first created the Stand I which went to market in 1857.

In 1861 he was awarded a gold medal at the Thuringain Industrial Exhibition for his designs. They were considered to be among the best scientific instruments in Germany. By this point he had about 20 people working under him with his business still growing all the time. In 1866 the Zeiss workshop sold their 1000th microscope. He then continued on for a few years, and assumed he had reached his fullest potential, but he met Dr. Ernst Abbe, a physicist that he joined up with in 1872. Their combined efforts lead to the discovery of the Abbe sine condition.

During this period, Zeiss made his best lenses that he ever had up to this point. Theoretically, the Abbe sine condition could greatly improve how well lenses could be made. The problem was, there wasn't any type of glass that was strong enough to fully test the theory.

Luckily, Dr. Ernst Abbe soon met Otto Schott, a 30 year old glass chemist who had just received his doctorate. They collaborated and soon produced a new type of glass in 1886 that could fully use the Abbe sine condition. This new type of glass paved the way for a new class of microscope objective: the apochromatic (often abbreviated 'apo'). Zeiss used water immersion to form a compensating eyepiece which produced images with little or no color distortion.

His son had entered the business with him, but retired soon after Carl Zeiss's death of natural causes on December 3, 1888. The business was incorporated as the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung in 1889, and it gained an international reputation for the manufacture of optical instruments of all kinds.


* Auerbach, "Das Zeisswerk und die Carl Zeiss-Stiftung in Jena" (third edition, Jena, 1907)

ee also

* Calculation of glass properties - a significant contribution to the success of the companies Zeiss and Schott

External links

* [ Carl Zeiss Biography]
* [ Zeiss Company History Site]
* [ Zeiss/Abbe Fact Sheet]
* [ First simple microscope made by Carl Zeiss ] in 1847/1848
* [ Early compound microscope made by Carl Zeiss ]
* [ Manual Focus Carl Zeiss Lenses ]

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