From Curiosity to Innovation


November 17 is a historic milestone and a rich legacy simply unmatched in any industry. Since the early days when Carl Zeiss created his first microscope, ZEISS has played a leading role in advancing the field of optics. From pioneering surgical microscopes and slit lamps, to developing optical glass and precision eyeglass lenses featuring point-focal imagery, ZEISS has continuously been at the forefront of optics. ZEISS continues to pursue innovations that change the world and how we live in it. But how did this story begin and how did ZEISS become the optical giant it is today?

The First Steps

On November 17, 1846, German entrepreneur Carl Zeiss opened a small workshop in the German city of Jena where he would work on precision mechanics and optics. One of this workshop’s most famous inventions was the microscope, and it became a forerunner in the optical industry. In 1853, Carl Zeiss invented an improved microscope that he called “the wonder of Jena”. It had twice the magnification power of other microscopes and provided a higher level of detailed observation by using transmitted light. Such an advanced device made new scientific discoveries possible and would later be called the compound microscope. But it would take a collaboration with physicist and mathematician Ernst Abbe in the mid-1860s to transform this small, specialty business into a large-scale commercial enterprise. Through a unique combination of scientific excellence and manufacturing expertise, ZEISS would grow to become a globally recognized brand name synonymous with excellence in optics.