Monday, December 13, 2004

Today 188 years ago: Ernst Werner von Siemens

Ernst Werner von Siemens (December 13, 1816 - December 6, 1892) was a German inventor and industrialist. Siemens invented a telegraph that used a needle to point to the right letter, instead of using Morse code. Based on this invention, he founded the company Siemens AG on October 12, 1847. The first electric elevator was built by Von Siemens in 1880. He retired in 1890.

The company continued to grow and diversified into electric trains and light bulbs. Siemens & Halske (S&H) was incorporated in 1897. In 1919, S&H and two other companies jointly formed the Osram lightbulb company. A Japanese subsidiary was established in 1923. During the 1920s and 1930s, S&H started to manufacture radios, television sets, and electron microscopes. During World War II, Siemens employed Jews and Roma as slave labour and ran its own concentration camp near Auschwitz.

In the 1950s, S&H started to manufacture computers, semiconductor devices, laundry machines, and heart pace makers. Siemens AG was incorporated in 1966. The company's first digital telephone exchange was produced in 1980. In 1990, Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG was founded. In 1997 Siemens introduced the first GSM cellular phone with color display.

Siemens AG is the world's largest electronics company and listed on the New York Stock Exchange since March 12, 2001. Worldwide, Siemens and its subsidiaries employ 423,000 people in 192 countries and reported global sales of $80.5 billion in fiscal year 2003.