Photographer: Jan-Peter Kasper

History of Carl Zeiss Microscopy GmbH

  • How it all started

    How it all started

    Carl Zeiss Microscopy GmbH is the microscope manufacturer under the roof of Carl Zeiss AG. It was a long road from the humble beginnings of microscopy at Carl Zeiss in the workshop founded in 1846 to the establishment of Carl Zeiss Microscopy GmbH. The development of microscopy at Carl Zeiss began with the manufacture of simple but very precise monocular light microscopes and grew to include more complex forms such as the compound microscope. The work of Ernst Abbe, Otto Schott and August Köhler was a key component of this process.

    The Second World War and the partition of Germany exerted a strong influence on the development and production of microscopes during the 20th century. In 1947, most of the Jena factory was dismantled. A new company with the same name was established in Oberkochen, West Germany. The Carl Zeiss companies in both East and West Germany operated independently until 1991. In 2006, the areas that manufactured microscopes were merged under the umbrella of Carl Zeiss MicroImaging GmbH, headquartered in Jena. In 2011, the electron microscopy department was integrated with the production sites in Oberkochen, Peabody and Cambridge. The company was renamed Carl Zeiss Microscopy, and its headquarters established in Jena, where it all began.

    Alongside Jena, the Göttingen and Munich sites offer perfect solutions for biological research, industry and the public health sector. Its product line comprises light microscopes, confocal systems for laser scanning microscopes, the entire electron microscope range and customized software for image evaluation and documentation. All these products have made Carl Zeiss Microscopy GmbH one of the leading manufacturers of microscope systems.

  • 1846 – 1879


    Carl Zeiss opens a workshop for precision mechanics and optics in Jena.


    Simple microscope with doublet and triplet optics. Production of simple microscopes begins.


    Carl Zeiss sells his first compound microscope.


    Beginning of the partnership with Ernst Abbe.

  • 1880 – 1945


    Partnership between Zeiss, Abbe and Schott. Optical glass from Otto Schott (1851-1935) enables more effectively corrected microscope systems.


    Beginning of TEM development by AEG. Carl Zeiss delivers inspection microscopes for the first TEM.


    Cooperation for electron microscopy started by AEG and Carl Zeiss.


    Jena initially occupied by American forces who take the leading employees to their zone. These employees establish a new company called Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen

  • 1946 – 1999


    Prof. Ernst Brüche founds the Süddeutschen Laboratorien Mosbach (SDL) and begins production of electron microscopes with electrostatic lenses.


    Cooperation with SEMCO for development of SEMs (NovaSCAN).


    After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen acquires parts of the former combine VEB Carl Zeiss Jena. including microscopy. The activities in this field in Oberkochen and Jena are merged.


    The activities of Carl Zeiss and Leica in the Electron Microscopy Technology are bundled in the 50/50 joint venture: LEO Electron Microscopy.

  • 2000 – today


    Rebranding: LEO Electron Microscopy becomes Carl Zeiss Nano Technology Systems GmbH (NTS), a Carl Zeiss SMT company.


    The Microscopy business group at Carl Zeiss becomes Carl Zeiss MicroImaging GmbH and is headquartered in Jena


    Acquisition of ALIS technology.


    Carl Zeiss NTS GmbH and Carl Zeiss MicroImaging GmbH jointly form the new Carl Zeiss Microscopy business group.