Citizen and Entrepreneur

1857 to 1866

Portrait of Carl Zeiss at the beginning of the 1880s.

Carl Zeiss at the beginning of the 1880s
(Foto: Carl Bräunlich, ZEISS Archiv).

In July 1858, Carl Zeiss was appointed deputy master of weights and measures by the Grand Ducal Office of Weights and Measures in Weimar. As such, he was tasked with overseeing weights and measures in and around the city of Jena. In September 1860, he was named university mechanic. Further proof of his growing reputation came in 1863 when he was named grand ducal court mechanic.

From 1863 to 1867, he was a member of the local council. At the same time, he became a volunteer in charge of donations and funds for local welfare. 1866 was the most successful year for Carl Zeiss since he established his company. 192 microscopes were produced – 81 more than in the previous year. In other words, Carl Zeiss was already a successful businessman and a highly respected citizen when he approached another key turning point in his life.


Compound microscope

from 1862 (Mappes’s collection)

Company size

3 – 11 employees

Microscope development

1,000 microscopes


First honorary prize at trade exhibition

Current events

Karl Marx