The Company is Established

1846 in Jena

Portrait of Carl Zeiss aged 34/35.

Portrait of Carl Zeiss aged 34/35.
(Carl Schenk, ZEISS Archiv).

After eleven years of being an apprentice, in 1845 Carl Zeiss returned to Jena on St. Michael’s Day (29 September). But before he could begin to consider establishing a business, Zeiss needed a residence permit. The simplest way to obtain one was to enroll at the university.

It was not until 10 May 1846 that Zeiss submitted a request with the grand ducal provincial headquarters to grant him a permit. In spite of his excellent references, the Weimar building authority summoned him to their headquarters in order to assess his suitability to be a mechanic. In his responses, Zeiss made no secret of the fact that he considered the exam questions as nothing more than an impertinence and a waste of time. The authority was clearly offended at his attitude and initially put his request to one side.

On 21 October, an impatient Carl Zeiss inquired as to its status. Only then did the building inspector in charge refer to his request once more. From that point on it was plain sailing: on 19 November 1846, the provincial headquarters in Weimar granted Zeiss a permit and informed the Jena city council; on 26 November, Zeiss received word from the council and on 8 December, he became a citizen of Jena.

Simple microscope

from 1847 (Mappes’s collection)

Career in Jena

City map, 1892. Source: Jena City Museums

Zeiss’s peers in Jena

Image gallery
Der Unternehmensgründer

Company size

The founding father
Das 1. einfache Mikroskop

Microscope development

First simple microscope
Die Konzessionsurkunde


Die Märzrevolution 1848

Current events

Revolutions of 1848