Ten Inventions You Didn’t Know Came From Germany

Ten Inventions You Didn’t Know Came From Germany

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    Germany has always been home to innovation. You probably know that both the printing press (Johannes Gutenberg, 1436) and Kindergarten (Friedrich Fröbel, 1830s) were invented here or could guess that it was the originating country for the Fahrenheit system of temperature measurement (Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, 1724) and the Bratwurst (first documented 1313). But did you know that these ten ideas came out of Germany as well?

    Image: daimler.com
    The Binary Number System

    Binary is a base-2 numeral system used by almost all modern computers.  Think of it as a language of numbers in which all of the words are comprised of combinations of ones and zeroes.  It was invented by Gottfried Leibniz in 1679.

    The Car, the Motorcycle, and the Truck

    The very first car was invented by Karl Benz in 1885, the first motorcycle by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in the same year, and the first truck in 1896 by Gottlieb Daimler.  No wonder German culture is in love with the automobile; it is practically its baby.  While we’re talking about modes of transport, a fun note: the Zeppelin was also invented by German Ferdinant von—you guessed it—Zeppelin.

    Petri Dish

    The little dish used by doctors and lab workers to culture cells was invented by German bacteriologist Julius Richard Petri in the late 1800s.  They are considered one of the most important tools in a bacteriological laboratory.

    Coffee Filters

    German housewife Melitta Bentz is responsible for the 1908 invention of the coffee filter used today by caffeine addicts the world over.

    Office Supplies

    Germans invented both the hole punch, the ring binder (both by Friedrich Soennecken, 1800s), the glue stick (company Henkel, 1969), and tape (Beiersdorf AG/Oscar Troplowitz, 1901).

    The Accordion, Harmonica, and Clarinet

    Germany has a rich musical history, so it should be no surprise that it was also the originating point of the accordion, the harmonica (both invented by Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann), and the clarinet (Johann Christoph Denner).  A German (Emil Berliner) was also responsible for the gramophone record.

    The Perm

    You may never have considered that the perm (permanent wave or artificially curled hair) has history.  But the method (and chemicals) used were developed by Charles Nessler in 1905.  He was known as a “hair scientist.”


    Almost everyone has taken this little white pill at one time or another to cure a headache or lower a fever, and you can thank German chemists at Bayer AG for producing a synthetic, easier-to-digest version of salicin in 1897 to cure the world’s headaches.

    The Easter Bunny

    The image of the bunny that brings candy to children for the Christian Easter holiday has become widespread through its commercialization.  But the custom originated in Germany and was first mentioned in Georg Franck von Franckenai’s De ovis paschalibus (About Easter Eggs) in 1682.  The symbol of the rabbit was used during springtime celebrations, however, by many other religious traditions for thousands of years.


    Of all the items on this list, cocaine might be the most surprising.  For thousands of years South American peoples have chewed coca leaf, but it wasn’t until 1855 that the cocaine alkaloid was isolated by German Chemist Friedrich Gaedcke.  It was originally used an anesthetic and anesthesia, but has limited medical use today.


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