Die Erfindergalerie des Deutschen Patent- und MarkenamtsNavigation überspringen und direkt zum Inhalt

The opening of the Inventors Gallery in 1984

The Inventors Gallery of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office was opened on 13 September 1984. On occasion of these celebrations, seven inventors held a panel discussion, chaired by Ernst von Khoun.
In its article "The Glorious Seven", the science journal "bild der wissenschaft" compiled excerpts from the discussion of the following inventors:

Bölkow, Ludwig
Bruch, Walter
Fischer, Artur
Oberth, Hermann
Sauer, Hans
Wankel, Felix
Zuse, Konrad

die sieben Erfinder und der Moderator

Fotos: Rolf Weinert

The President of the German Patent Office, Dr. Erich Häußer, gave a speech in praise of the inventors:


The Inventors Gallery has been opened at the German Patent Office in Munich. The portraits exhibited depict German inventors whose work has had a major impact on whole areas of modern technology. The gallery is meant to contribute to strengthening the confidence in one's own ability and showing, particularly to the young generation that "inventor" can be a career aim worth pursuing.

The fathers of a wide range of inventions - from the expansion plug to the moon rocket - are now given a place of honour in the German Inventors Gallery at the German Patent Office.
It has been easy to choose the first round of inductees: Hans Sauer, Ludwig Bölkow, Felix Wankel, Konrad Zuse, Hermann Oberth, Walter Bruch and Artur Fischer. These seven inventors have had a major impact on our image of the world of technology.

Scarcely anybody else had quite the strong influence on the history of rocketry and space travel of Prof. Dr. Hermann Oberth. The tale goes that, as a boy of 12, he was so fascinated by the books of Jules Verne that, in his youth, he executed small laborious research experiments to investigate the acceleration forces affecting the human body.
In 1917, he designed the first long-range rocket with a range of 300 km. In 1920, he planned a multi-stage space rocket weighing 100 metric tons. It is not surprising that his work titled "The Rocket to Interplanetary Space" had not been accepted as doctoral thesis by the University of Heidelberg for appearing too utopian.
Nonetheless, Hermann Oberth has made his contribution to shaping this centuries old technological dream. Modern space travel would be inconceivable without his fundamental works.

An invention by Prof. Dr. Konrad Zuse is the basis of a technological development that has shaped a whole technological era and probably has given this era its name. Computers would be inconceivable without Dr. Zuse.
When taking a look at the first Zuse apparatus that still functioned with relays, one cannot help wondering what success these first calculating machines might have had if modern relays had been available at that time.

We owe to Prof. Hans Sauer a revolution in the field of relays. He optimised these electric switching devices so that they are just the 28th part of the size of the original models and are able to perform many more functions in a given contact time than earlier relays.

It was Felix Wankel who revolutionised engine technology in the 1960s, enriching this field by a principle that, although not being quite unknown, entered the application stage for the first time. Felix Wankel worked on the rotary piston engine for many years. He was able to implement this technology. Specifically, he solved the sealing problem. It still hurts him - and me - that a breakthrough in automotive engineering has not yet been achieved.

The name of Prof. Dr. Walter Bruch is inseparably linked with the history of television in Germany. In 1935, at the age of 27, he started to work on television problems at Telefunken. One year later, he was cameraman and operated the camera that he himself had designed which was used for the first live transmission of Olympic contests. The analysis of the American and French colour television systems led him to design his own system: the PAL system. It proved to be the most efficient colour television system.

Senator Dr. Artur Fischer convincingly proves that the days of the independent, self-employed inventor - often misinterpreted as "small inventor" - are not over.
In 1945, after finishing school and military service, he began to work as a self-employed inventor in his workshop. Within 30 years he has built up a huge enterprise with presently more than 1,000 staff. He was granted no fewer than 5,000 patents, among those many fixing elements and the famous Fischertechnik construction kit, cherished by our children - and also by adults.

Bölkow: hardly any other name is so closely connected with the latest manufacturing technology and future technology, not only with modern defence systems but also with many products for the civilian sector: for instance, the airbag, the passive air cushion safety system in cars, or the rescue helicopter, which has saved many lives, or the airbus, whose success can be attributed also to Dr. Ludwig Bölkow, or the magnetic levitation train that will soon be running through our country.

These seven inventors have helped Germany to establish its global reputation for technical ingenuity. I hope that we will often have the opportunity to induct meritorious inventors into this gallery for we plan to continue inductions. It is also a sign of gratitude to all German inventors for the outstanding achievements they accomplished and an incentive for future achievements.

TOP  hoch

Dr. Ludwig Bölkow:

  BölkowAchtung: Bild wird in neuem Fenster geöffnet!

"Those who do no longer have the capacity to wonder will also lose the stimulus to design something."

"The decisive thing is - this is particularly true for us inventors - that we shall never in our lives lose the capacity to wonder. You must constantly wonder why something works and why it does not work better.
What is needed today is giving young people and colleagues in their creative years a problem to solve, a problem that is not easy to solve, that will pose a challenge to them.
In the past 20 years, I have not felt among my many employees as one who has discovered certain details, but as one who set them challenging tasks. While I have always known, partly by intuition, partly by the ever wider range of knowledge: They can be solved.
There is a certain weakness here in that we do no longer have the courage in many fields to set risk-laden challenges for young people.
Challenges that are based on our ability not to forget how to wonder."

TOP  hoch

Prof. Dr. Walter Bruch:

  BruchAchtung: Bild wird in neuem Fenster geöffnet!

"My philosophy of making inventions: You get yourself a task, you want to solve a problem, and you are persistently seeking to find a solution."

"Lessing once said: The greatest miracle of all is that miracles can seem so commonplace to us. Today, I am very surprised that the miracle I produced many years ago is still recognised as a miracle today.
All my life I have done television, but I have also made innumerable other inventions. I have much more pride in those than in the inventions that I have actually put through. For instance, a sewing machine:
As a boy I watched my father, a shoemaker, as he sewed leather with a machine. The needle moves in the upper part and the shuttle moves in the lower part, without having a linkage to the upper part. Then I thought that such a machine should operate by remote control, but then I was 50 years too young for this ingenious idea.
I was always fascinated by a task and in case of television I was so much fascinated that I broke down walls to realise it. Thank heavens the company where I was employed did not have walls of concrete. All the obstacles were surmountable."

TOP  hoch

Dr. Artur Fischer:

  Fischer Achtung: Bild wird in neuem Fenster geöffnet!

"Even as an apprentice I was motivated to show initiative. "Lad, we will do this differently" the master said to me."

"During my metalworking apprenticeship I had a master who always went his own way, even if he produced a door locking mechanism. At home too, I was always busy making things with my hands. I give my mother credit for letting me do what I wanted, even if the floor got dirty.
One time, we built an electrical heating system for the aquarium. One day my mother came running to me, all excited: "Come quickly, the water is boiling."
Later, I had many other ideas. I probably have a total of roughly 5,000 patents. Several billion expanding plugs are probably being produced every year, I do not know the exact numbers. "

TOP  hoch

Prof. Dr, Hermann Oberth:

  Oberth Achtung: Bild wird in neuem Fenster geöffnet!

"If you are faced with a problem, you should never say, this is not possible."

"What are the guiding principles that young people should follow today? Young people should more often think about what culture means for mankind. They should think about why we are here in this world. This is actually one of the most important questions, we should all think about it.
An equally fundamental question concerns the performance of one's duties. What actually are our duties? Duty is a flexible term. I myself feel the obligation to contribute to improving the present situation of mankind, as much as I can.
Most of us feel a certain sense of duty. However, we should be also careful, because there are some duties that are better not fulfilled."

TOP  hoch

Dipl.-Ing. Hans Sauer:

  Sauer Achtung: Bild wird in neuem Fenster geöffnet!

"If you are an inventor, it is best to be independent. You cannot really put your ideas into practice in a firm that you do not own."

"In the United States I got the money that I needed to found a company. First of all, I had to learn something, in the field of relay technology, in particular.
It is far easier to make money in the US. You will be able to afford a house of your own within two and a half years. However, I did not want to stay there.
After my return to Germany I was lucky to meet a manager with excellent technological skills and started my own business.
In Japan I spent one week visiting the whole relay industry. All were interested in cooperating with me. It is true that I had something to offer."

TOP  hoch

Dr. Felix Wankel:

  Wankel Achtung: Bild wird in neuem Fenster geöffnet!

"An inventor must be obsessed with an idea, it must possess him. I must admit that it will drive him half crazy."

"For an engineer, I am terribly handicapped: my mathematical skills are poor. I have always been unable to perform more than basic arithmetic operations.
This does not mean that I do not have a deep respect for mathematics. I do not call myself an engineer but a machine freak. When I make a true to scale drawing of a construction, my engineers often think that I have calculated everything in secret beforehand. But this is not true, I am purely instinct driven.
Maybe, inventiveness is similar to sports or music: it must be within you, then it will eventually emerge.
However, I would like to stress: talent is nothing without hard work.

TOP  hoch

Prof. Konrad Zuse:

  Konrad Zuse Achtung: Bild wird in neuem Fenster geöffnet!

"Inventing has got to do something with homo ludens, the playful man. Attention: you have to take playing seriously."

"When I was young, maybe about 16, I wanted to improve a lot of things. At that time, I had already made many inventions, most of which turned out to be rubbish.
I had designed a 35 million inhabitant city called "Metropolis", with a traffic net that might be interesting even for today's cities. Furthermore, I designed a lot of gadgets for cameras. Much to my regret, many items had already been invented by someone else. This is a common experience among inventors.
Why did I have to invent? There was no need to improve or design something specific. Something just made me invent things."

TOP  hoch

Home   |   Contents   |   Imprint   |   Information   |    www.dpma.de   |   Deutsche Version

Copyright © Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt 2004