“Göttingen – Looking from the West”; woodcarving from 1585; provided by the Göttingen City Archives

History of ZEISS in Göttingen

  • How it all started

    How it all started

    First mentioned in 953, Göttingen was elevated to town status around 1150. Georg August University – named after its founder King George II from Great Britain – opened in the city in 1734. Göttingen is where Rudolf Winkel began his independent precision mechanical work in 1857 for the company Breithaupt in Kassel and for the University of Göttingen in rented rooms.

    1857 also marks the beginnings of Carl Zeiss in Göttingen, which is inextricable linked with the history of the Winkel  family.

    The workshop prospered, requiring expansion of the factory shortly thereafter.

    By the end of the 19th century, the workshop had moved to the Düstere Eichenweg and Winkel’s oldest son Carl took over the mechanical workshop. In 1907, he implemented serial production and enlarged the production program considerably. By 1911, Carl Zeiss had become the largest shareholder and the company was transformed into a GmbH.

    In 1957, a century after the first products left Winkel’s workshop, R. Winkel GmbH became a foundation company.

    In 1957, a century after the first products left Winkel’s workshop, R. Winkel GmbH became a foundation company.

    The company develops and distributes upright and inverse microscopes, stereomicroscopes and systems for industry, science and research. The most important target groups are automotive, steel and metal producing companies, as well as the chemistry, microelectronic and solar industries and the associated research institutes.

  • 930 – 1856


    Göttingen is first mentioned as “Gutingi” in a document of Emperor
    Otto I.

     “Göttingen – Looking from the West”; woodcarving, 1585; with kind permission by the Göttingen City Archives

    Around 1150

    Receiving the town charter.

    With kind permission by: Göttingen City Archives


    Opening of the Georg August University

  • 1857 – 1900


    In rented rooms (on Goethe-Allee), Rudolf Winkel begins his work in precision mechanics for the company Breithaupt of Kassel and for the University of Göttingen.


    The first larger Winkel microscopes are appraised by Professor Listing.


    Winkel’s workshop moves to Düsterer Eichenweg 9 on the corner of Baurat-Gerber-Strasse.


    The workshop expands. Eldest son Carl becomes the new director.

  • 1901 – today


    The factory on Königsallee is newly erected. Mass production and a larger product range follow.


    Carl Zeiss becomes the largest shareholder. The company becomes a GmbH (limited liability company), and the factory building is once again expanded. Winkel is the first company to introduce the 8-hour workday. Number of employees* 130


    Factory II (optics production) is erected on Carl-Zeiss-Strasse.


    R. Winkel GmbH is incorporated into the Carl Zeiss Foundation.