Carl Zeiss was founded in Jena in 1846. Shortly thereafter, a large number of the company's products were sold abroad. Distribution was originally the responsibility of business associates and representatives. In 1893, the first representative outside Germany opened in London. The first production site outside Jena opened in Vienna in 1906.

The two World Wars resulted in massive set backs to the company's internationalization endeavors: The representatives had to be refounded in practically all countries. Beginning around 1950, there were even two competing subsidiaries in many countries: The branches of Carl Zeiss Oberkochen and VEB Carl Zeiss Jena competed head-to-head.

It was not until the reunification that this situation was resolved. Since the 1990s, rapidly growing subsidiaries have been opening up their own sales subsidiaries in other countries. Manufacturing subsidiaries outside Germany have become more and more important in the new millennium. Today, some product ranges are produced entirely outside Germany.

Carl Zeiss Göttingen

In 1857 Rudolf Winkel launched a mechanical company in Göttingen. In 1911 Carl Zeiss became the largest shareholder. Today Carl Zeiss develops and produces microscopes in Göttingen.


Carl Zeiss Jena

In 1846, Carl Zeiss opened an optical workshop in Jena where he built his first microscopes. It is still an important location for the company.


Carl Zeiss Oberkochen

The history of Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen began at the end of World War II. when leading employees from Carl Zeiss Jena were taken to the West by American forces.


Carl Zeiss Wetzlar

The optical company Engelbert & Hensoldt moved to Wetzlar in 1856. It was acquired by Carl Zeiss in 1926. Today Wetzlar is the home of Carl Zeiss Sport Optics.