Portrait: Werner von Siemens, founder of modern electrical engineering

Wednesday, 23 August 2017 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Portrait
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Ernst Werner Siemens was a German inventor and industrialist. Siemens’s name has been adopted as the SI unit of electrical conductance, the siemens. He was also the founder of the electrical and telecommunications company Siemens. After finishing school, Siemens intended to study at the Bauakademie Berlin. However, since his family was highly indebted and thus could not afford to pay the tuition fees, he chose to join the Prussian Military Academy‘s School of Artillery and Engineering, between the years 1835-1838, instead, where he received his officers training. Siemens was thought of as a good soldier, receiving various medals, and inventing electrically-charged sea mines, which were used to combat a Danish blockade of Kiel.

Upon returning home from war, he chose to work on perfecting technologies that had already been established and eventually became known world-wide for his advances in various technologies. In 1843 he sold the rights to his first invention to Elkington of Birmingham. Siemens invented a telegraph that used a needle to point to the right letter, instead of using Morse code. Based on this invention, he founded the company Telegraphen-Bauanstalt von Siemens & Halske on 1 October 1847, with the company opening a workshop on 12 October. The company was internationalised soon after its founding. One brother of Werner represented him in England (Sir William Siemens) and another in St. Petersburg, Russia (Carl von Siemens), each earning recognition. Following his industrial career, he was ennobled in 1888, becoming Werner von Siemens. He retired from his company in 1890 and died in 1892 in Berlin. The company, reorganized as Siemens & Halske AG, Siemens-Schuckertwerke and – since 1966 – Siemens AG was later led by his brother Carl, his sons Arnold, Wilhelm, and Carl Friedrich, his grandsons Hermann and Ernst and his great-grandson Peter von Siemens. Siemens AG is one of the largest electrotechnological firms in the world. The von Siemens family still owns 6% of the company shares and holds a seat on the supervisory board, being the largest shareholder.

Südwestkirchhof Stahnsdorf - Grab Werner von Siemens © Assenmacher/cc-by-sa-4.0 Die Gartenlaube (1892) Dynamomaschine von Werner von Siemens aus 1868 © Dmm2va7/cc-by-3.0 Werner von Siemens by Giacomo Brogi
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Südwestkirchhof Stahnsdorf - Grab Werner von Siemens © Assenmacher/cc-by-sa-4.0
Siemens was an advocate of Social Democracy, and he hoped that industrial development would not be used in favour of capitalism, stating:

A number of great factories in the hands of rich capitalists, in which “slaves of work” drag out their miserable existence, is not, therefore, the goal of the development of the age of natural science, but a return to individual labour, or where the nature of things demands it, the carrying on of common workshops by unions of workmen, who will receive a sound basis only through the general extension of knowledge and civilization, and through the possibility of obtaining cheaper capital.

He also rejected the claim that science lead to materialism, stating instead:

Equally unfounded is the complaint that the study of science and the technical application of the forces of nature gives to mankind a thoroughly material direction, makes them proud of their knowledge and power, and alienates ideal endeavours. The deeper we penetrate into the harmonious action of natural forces regulated by eternal unalterable laws, and yet so thickly veiled from our complete comprehension, the more we feel on the contrary moved to humble modesty, the smaller appears to us the extent of our knowledge, the more active is our endeavour to draw more from the inexhaustible fountain of knowledge, and understanding, and the higher rises our admiration of the endless wisdom which ordains and penetrates the whole creation.

Read more on Wikipedia Werner von Siemens (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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