History of Carl Zeiss Microscopy


How it all started


Carl Zeiss Microscopy GmbH is the microscopy wing of Carl Zeiss. It has come a long way from the company’s early beginnings as a workshop by Carl Zeiss in 1846. The development of microscopes at Carl Zeiss began with the fabrication of simple but precise monocular light microscopes and evolved into more complex forms such as compound microscopes. The work of Ernst Abbe, Otto Schott and August Köhler was vital to this evolution.


The ongoing development and production of microscopes in the 20th century was heavily affected by World War II and the following division of Germany. In 1947, the biggest part of the subsidiary in Jena was dismantled and shortly thereafter re-established in Oberkochen. The two Carl Zeiss companies, suddenly divided by the iron curtain, operated independently of each other until 1991. In 2006, the different divisions producing ZEISS light microscopes were officially merged to create Carl Zeiss MicroImaging GmbH and, after the successful merger with the electron microscopy division in 2011, today form the Carl Zeiss Microscopy GmbH, which is again headquartered in Jena where it all began.


In addition to Jena, Göttingen and Munich offer perfect solutions for biological research, the public health sector and industry. The company’s range of products includes light microscopes, confocal systems for laser scanning microscopy, a full portfolio of electron and ion beam microscopes, and perfectly-tailored software solutions for image processing and image documentation. Together with our sites manufacturing electron microscopes in Oberkochen, Peabody and Cambridge, all of these instruments make Carl Zeiss Microscopy GmbH today one of the world’s leading manufacturers of microscope systems.


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

With friendly permission: Dr. Timo Mappes, www.musoptin.com


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

With friendly permission: Dr. Timo Mappes, www.musoptin.com


Carl Zeiss sells his first compound microscope.


Begin of partnership with Ernst Abbe.


Abbe’s theory of image formation in the microscope leads to fundamentally improved microscopes.


Partnership between Zeiss, Abbe and Schott. Optical glass from Otto Schott enables more effectively corrected microscope systems.

With friendly permission: Dr. Timo Mappes, www.musoptin.com


Zeiss markets the first lot of an entirely new type of microscope objectives: Apochromats.


Founding of the first non-German subsidiary in London marks the start of global expansion.


Carl Zeiss manufactures the first Greenough-type stereomicroscope.

With friendly permission: Dr. Timo Mappes, www.musoptin.com


Customized for any need. Special constructions are being manufactured at Carl Zeiss.


The famous L-stand becomes standard for microscope design


Plan Apochromats and Plan Achromats with flat image field for micro-photography based on calculations form Hans Boegehold.


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.


The Standard microscope becomes one of the most successful models in the history of Carl Zeiss


Launch of an all-new Photomicroscope with integrated camera and automatic exposure control.


The laser scanning microscope, a microscope system with object scanning through an oscillating laser beam and electronic image processing


Carl Zeiss introduces the pyramids, a new generation of microscopes


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.


Carl Zeiss is the first manufacturer to launch an integrated widefield digital imaging system.


PlasDIC by Carl Zeiss allows the use of plastic dishes for microscopic examinations


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


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