The aims of the foundation companies Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen and Schott Glaswerke in Mainz are: to develop, produce and sell high-quality products in the field of optics, precision engineering, electronics and precision glass technology on national and international markets; to provide their employees with exemplary social benefits; to allow their employees to develop their capabilities to the full; to promote important work in science and technology and to participate in projects of general social value.
These aims and the following principles determine the policy of the foundation companies: science and technology complement each other; science, technology and economics serve man and not vice versa; economic stability safeguards jobs; the company and its employees are mutually dependent.
Science, progressive technology and social responsibility are therefore the main objectives behind the activities of the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung.
The Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung, a 'juridical person' under German civil law, is the sole owner of two industrial enterprises, Carl Zeiss of Oberkochen and Schott Glas of Mainz. These enterprises develop, produce, and sell high-quality precision-engineered optical glass and electronic products, including ophthalmic products, binoculars, camera lenses, medical and surgical instruments and systems, microscopes, semiconductor technologies, measuring machines, surveying instruments, glass for household appliances, consumer glassware, laboratory glassware, glass tubing, and glass pharmaceutical packaging. The Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung enterprises have&mdash a percentage of sales--one of Germany's highest research and development budgets. The company has no private or state associates, and no shareholders. Stiftung is sometimes inaccurately translated as a special type of 'foundation,' a term suggesting an institution with purely charitable or scientific aims. The Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung, however, is a business organization with specific technological, scientific, economic, and social aims and functions. Usually companies are owned by individuals, banks, or states. The above-mentioned enterprises, however, are owned by the Stiftung and owe much of their character to its 1896 statute provisions.
The origins of the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung date from 1846, when Carl Zeiss, later awarded the title of university mechanic by the Grand Duke of Sachsen-Weimar, opened an instrument maker's shop in Jena. He soon specialized in the manufacture of microscopes. At the request of Carl Zeiss, the physicist Ernst Abbe developed the wave theory of microscopic imaging and, based on this theory, designed instruments with better resolution power and better color rendition than was hitherto possible. These improved microscopes sold from 1872, and--in particular microscopes with homogenous immersion objectives, introduced in 1877, and those with apochromatic objectives, available in 1886--greatly assisted bacteriologists' identification of infectious bacteria.
At that time the availability of only a small number of glass types with different optical properties limited progress in microscope image quality. In 1884 the chemist Otto Schott, together with Ernst Abbe, Carl Zeiss, and the latter's son Roderich, established a glass research laboratory, which developed into the Jenaer Glaswerk Schott & Genossen. By 1886, 44 different types of optical glass were in production. In cooperation with Ernst Abbe, Otto Schott carried out systematic research work into the dependence of optical and other glass on chemical composition. Schott's inventions included thermometer glass and chemical- and heat-resistant borosilicate glass. His optical glass contributed to the development of modern optical instruments. For microscopes and later also for telescopes, optical systems with apochromatic correction, that is, considerably reduced color aberrations, were designed.
Abbe's achievements as a social reformer of employment conditions were as significant as his scientific innovations. In 1889, the year following the death of Carl Zeiss, Abbe founded the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung, which in 1891 he made the sole owner of the Zeiss works and a partner in the Schott works. In 1919 Schott made his own share of the glass works available to the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung, which thus became the sole owner of both enterprises. In the 1896 statute of the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung, Ernst Abbe formulated its aims and principles. The guiding principle of the Zeiss and Schott works and their associated enterprises throughout the world was to secure their economic, scientific, and technological future and in this way to improve the job security of their employees. The Stiftung's enterprises were obliged to produce high-quality, precision-engineered instruments, optical glass, and similar products, to fulfill long-term social welfare obligations to their employees, to support science and technology outside as well as within the enterprises, and to participate in projects that served the general good. The employment and career of an employee would depend only on his capabilities and performance, not on his origin, religion, or political views. The employees were to elect their own representation on the works council, and they received the right to a fixed minimum income, paid holidays, sickness benefit, profit sharing, disablement and pension benefits, and a nine-hour day, all of which was realized as early as 1896. In 1900 the eight-hour day was introduced.
Early Diversification and Growth
This scientific and social basis was reinforced economically by product diversification and by a growing export organization. In addition to microscopes Zeiss marketed photo lenses from 1890, measuring instruments from 1893, and terrestrial telescopes from 1894. Astronomical optics followed in 1897, medical instruments in 1898, photogrammetrical instruments in 1901, surveying instruments in 1908, and eyeglasses in 1912. Schott solved the cooling problem for large optical components with a diameter of up to 1.4 meters, as early as 1894. In 1913 Schott offered 97 types of optical glass, and by 1923 the number had increased to 114.
International relations were cultivated at an early stage. Zeiss visited the Paris World Fair in 1867, and Schott was repeatedly active as a manager in Spain, establishing a chemical factory in Oviedo and a production facility for window glass in Reinosa. These were not, however, owned by Schott. Abbe exchanged ideas with British microscopists, and from 1878 he published papers in English.
In 1899 about two-thirds of Zeiss instruments were sold abroad. A network of branches and agencies was built up, beginning with Zeiss sales offices in London, in 1901, and Vienna, in 1902. Branch factories were established in Vienna; in Györ, Hungary; Riga; and London in the first years of the 20th century.
In this period the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung financed a number of projects for the benefit of Jena University and of the community, including a university building in 1908 and the Volkshaus, literally the 'People's House,' but in reality a palace with a library, museums, lecture halls, and a concert hall. Other projects in which the Stiftung was involved included a school of opticians, a children's hospital, and a public baths.
The Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung's constituent businesses, according to its statute, do not have a president but have several board members instead. This arrangement provides a degree of continuity even if a manager retires or dies. When Abbe retired in 1903 and died in 1905, Otto Schott, Siegfried Czapski, and Rudolf Straubel took over the burden of responsibility. Longstanding leaders of the organization included Erich Schott, who created a glass electric division in the glass works and was a board member from 1927 to 1968, and Walther Bauersfeld, who was a Zeiss board member from 1908 to 1959. Bauersfeld received worldwide esteem for his invention of a planetarium, which strikingly demonstrated the real and apparent movements of the sun, moon, fixed stars, and planets by projection on the inside of a dome.
The reputation of the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung, the excellence of its products, and the commercial success of its enterprises had a far-reaching impact on the industries in which it was involved. Bausch & Lomb of Rochester, New York, acquired licenses from Zeiss, who bought shares in this U.S. company in 1908. World War I put an end to this successful collaboration in 1915. Another well-known microscope manufacturer, Rudolf Winkel of Göttingen, was reorganized in 1911 after some financial problems with the help of Carl Zeiss, which became the principal shareholder.
From 1910 to 1926 various German camera factories were amalgamated step-by-step into the Zeiss Ikon AG, famous for its Contax brand. In 1910 Zeiss acquired shares and in 1931 the majority of the Prontor-Werk Alfred Gauthier GmbH, later a producer of items for Carl Zeiss instruments. In 1927 the Schott works acquired a majority share in a company later called Schott-Zwiesel-Glaswerke AG that produced consumer glassware. Three years later a majority share was acquired in the company later known as Deutsche Spezialglas AG, a manufacturer of ophthalmic glass and various types of special technical glass. In 1928 Carl Zeiss acquired shares of the M. Hensoldt & Söhne Wetzlar Optische Werke AG, which later produced Carl Zeiss telescopes and riflescopes. Hermann Anschütz-Kaempfe, the inventor of the gyrocompass, was impressed by the ideas of the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung, to which he offered majority share of his company Anschütz & Co. GmbH, producers of navigation instruments, shortly before his death in 1931.
Thanks to its solid foundations the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung survived through times of hardship. During World War I, the workforce was considerably enlarged due to the demands of riflescope, distancemeter, and aerial camera production. After the war and the subsequent period of hyperinflation it became necessary to reduce personnel. In accordance with the statute of the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung, compensation for dismissal was paid.
In 1933 a National Socialist was appointed to the post of Stiftungskommissar (foundation deputy), as the one-man supervising authority of the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung. The board members and workforces of both enterprises, Carl Zeiss and Schott Glaswerke, offered concerted resistance. The foundation deputy was ousted from his post in 1934, and Abraham Esau, a professor loyal to the Stiftung, took his place.
After 1933 production of a wide range of glass materials, glass products, and optical instruments continued. New developments included the phase contrast microscope, the prototype of which was first seen in 1936, and a new instrument for rapid surveying, in 1942. During World War II demand for military optics--range finders, rifle scopes, and periscopes for example--increased again. The additional workforce consisted of both Germans and laborers from occupied countries.
Postwar Reconstruction in a Divided Germany
In 1945, after World War II, the Allied government brought the entire management and the leading scientists of the enterprises of the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung to Heidenheim. Four years later, Heidenheim became its new legal base after the two Jena enterprises were expropriated in 1948 by the East German authorities without compensation. Only in West Germany could it continue its existence on the basis of Abbe's statute. The Schott Glaswerke and Carl Zeiss were thereby able to regain international renown for their numerous technical innovations.
Nevertheless, the 126 managers and scientists in West Germany had to overcome enormous difficulties. Having arrived without technical documents, they had to rely on memory. In 1946, in Oberkochen near Heidenheim--in what is today Baden-Württemberg--a new optical plant was established, initially in rented premises. The glass experts continued production in Zwiesel and Landshut, Bavaria, until 1952, when a new factory was opened in Mainz. The manufacture of microscopes was transferred to Göttingen and the facilities of Rudolf Winkel, which was fully taken over by Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung in 1957.
Schott also established a number of production and sales subsidiaries at home and abroad; for example, ampule factories in Brazil and France between 1954 and 1974. In 1967 Schott Glass Technologies Inc. of Duryea, Pennsylvania, in the United States was founded for the production of optical glass. In Germany the Schott-Ruhrglas GmbH, manufacturing special glass tubing, was established in 1969. Carl Zeiss acquired two spectacles factories--Marwitz & Hauser, in which it had acquired a majority shareholding in 1958, and Titmus Optical Inc., of the United States--in 1974. The contact lens maker Wöhlk became a Zeiss subsidiary in 1980, when Carl Zeiss acquired a major stake.
After the postwar reconstruction of the company, the employment rights of the workers became effective once more; they had not been practicable during the state of emergency after World War II. On the occasion of this event Federal President Theodor Heuss visited Oberkochen on May 1, 1954, and stated: 'German destiny is branded on few establishments of world significance as it is on this Zeiss establishment.'
The original plants in Jena were dismantled by the Russian authorities in 1946, and more than 300 specialists were forced to work in Russia for some years. The Zeiss and Schott enterprises in Jena were temporarily struck off the trade register. Expropriation and nationalization of its former factories had removed the basis of the existence of the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung in Jena. Nevertheless, the factories in Jena were restored to working order as part of a state-owned enterprise called VEB Carl Zeiss Jena, which was created in 1948. By the 1960s, this entity was transformed into an East German 'combine,' eventually becoming the largest and most prestigious such conglomerate in the country. While continuing to produce microscopes, telescopes, medical instruments, and other optical products--and thereby competing directly with the West German Carl Zeiss--Carl Zeiss Jena also diversified into military technology, microchips, cameras, and a host of other areas. (Cameras provided an interesting contrast between Carl Zeiss east and west; the latter exited from camera making in 1971 under pressure from Japanese competitors, while the former started making cameras in 1986 at the prodding of the East German government.) Carl Zeiss Jena was so important to the East German economy that its head was also a member of the Communist Party Central Committee.
From 1954 there were legal disputes in many countries regarding the matter of identity of the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung and the use of the name Zeiss and its trademarks. In 1971 a compromise contract was finally drawn up in London. Under the contract, the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung, Heidenheim, could exclusively use its name and trademarks with the component Zeiss in West Germany and some other Western countries, including the United States. The Jena party received corresponding exclusive rights within the Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, representing communist countries) and some other countries. In certain countries, such as the United Kingdom and Spain, both parties could use the name Zeiss. As far as the identity of the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung was concerned, the parties adhered to their differing opinions, each claiming to be the true representative of the foundation set up by Ernst Abbe. For the glass works, a settlement valid worldwide was reached in 1981; the enterprise in Mainz was renamed Schott Glaswerke and the Jena enterprise took the name Jenaer Glaswerk.
The July 1990 reunification of Germany provided the opportunity for the reuniting of the eastern and western sides of the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung. In February of that year the first exploratory talks were held between the two sides. In June 1990 Carl Zeiss Jena was converted into a limited company under the name Jenoptik Carl Zeiss Jena GmbH, the shares of which were acquired by the Treuhandanstalt, the Berlin-based agency in charge of privatizing the enterprises of what was soon to be the former East Germany. In November the two sides reached a general agreement to reunite, an agreement that also provided a framework for the restructuring of both Jenoptik Carl Zeiss and Jenaer Glaswerk.
By early 1991, then, Jenoptik Carl Zeiss had slashed its workforce by nearly 60 percent, from 69,000 to 25,800, and had jettisoned a number of noncore operations. In 1991, in anticipation of reunification, the Jena-based firm spun off its remaining nonoptical activities into a new entity called Jenoptik GmbH, which became owned by the state of Thuringia, where Jena is located. The optical activities were organized in the newly founded Carl Zeiss Jena GmbH. In June 1991 a final agreement was reached whereby the Oberkochen Carl Zeiss took a 51 percent controlling stake in both Carl Zeiss Jena and Jenaer Glaswerk, with the state of Thuringia, through its ownership of Jenoptik, holding the remaining 49 percent stakes in each. In May 1995 the interests held by Jenoptik were acquired by the Oberkochen Carl Zeiss. The four Carl Zeiss enterprises--the Oberkochen Carl Zeiss, Schott Glaswerke, Carl Zeiss Jena, and Jenaer Glaswerk--were thereby fused within the umbrella of the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung. In a victory for the western side, the foundation was reconstituted based on the Heidenheim version of the charter, although in 1994 it adopted dual headquarters in Heidenheim and Jena. Rounding out the legal changes, Schott Glaswerke shortened its name to Schott Glas in 1997, while the Jena-based glass works were renamed Schott Jenaer Glas GmbH.
Despite nearly US$400 million in assistance from the German government, the reunification proved extremely difficult. The eastern German companies continued to lose money into the late 1990s, in spite of further workforce reductions, which left only about 3,000 Zeiss workers in Jena (about 10,000 jobs went over to Jenoptik GmbH). The operations of Carl Zeiss Jena suffered from the loss of most of its reliable customers in eastern Europe and Russia in the wake of the economic difficulties that accompanied the transition from state planning to capitalism. A deep recession in Germany did not help matters. Further layoffs followed, and in 1995 the entire Carl Zeiss group reorganized its product areas into smaller customer-oriented business groups.
For the 1996-97 fiscal year, the Carl Zeiss group broke even, following several years in the red. The Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung reported improving results in the late 1990s with net sales increasing from DM 5.1 billion in 1996 to DM 5.98 billion in 1998. Net income was on the rise as well, improving from DM 166 million in 1996 to DM 318 million in 1998. For the 1999 fiscal year, however, the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung reported weaker results, in part because of the Asian financial crisis. This downturn led the foundation's management to consider a more radical reorganization, whereby the foundation would be transformed into a holding company, with Carl Zeiss and Schott Glas turned into separate incorporated firms. Such a makeover would follow similar transformations at other large German foundation companies, such as Bertelsmann AG.
Principal Subsidiaries: CARL ZEISS: Carl Zeiss Beteiligungs-GmbH; Carl Zeiss Industrielle Meátechnik GmbH; Carl Zeiss Jena GmbH; Carl Zeiss Lithos GmbH; Carl Zeiss Vision GmbH; Hensoldt AG; Hensoldt Systemtechnik GmbH; Marwitz & Hauser GmbH; MICROM Laborgeräte GmbH (74.9%); Prontor-Werk Alfred Gauthier GmbH; Schott-Zeiss Assekuranzkontor GmbH (50%); Wöhlk Contact-Linsen GmbH; Zeiss Optronic GmbH; Carl Zeiss N.V.-S.A. (Belgium); Carl Zeiss S.A. (France); Schott-Zeiss France Holding S.à.r.l. (France; 25.5%); Carl Zeiss Ltd. (U.K.); Carl Zeiss S.p.A. (Italy); Carl Zeiss B.V. (Netherlands); Carl Zeiss AS (Norway); Carl Zeiss GmbH (Austria); Carl Zeiss AB (Sweden); Carl Zeiss AG (Switzerland); Optiswiss Thaler AG (Switzerland); Carl Zeiss S.A. (Spain); Carl Zeiss Hungaria Optikai Kft. (Hungary); CAZE Szemüvegkeret Gyártó Kft. (Hungary); Carl Zeiss Holding Co. Inc. (U.S.A.); Carl Zeiss IMT Corporation (U.S.A.); Carl Zeiss Inc. (U.S.A.); Carl Zeiss Optical Inc. (U.S.A.); Carl Zeiss Canada Ltd.; Carl Zeiss (Pty.) Ltd. (South Africa); Carl Zeiss Far East Co. Ltd. (Hong Kong); Carl Zeiss Co. Ltd. (Japan); Humphrey Co. Ltd. (Japan); Carl Zeiss SDN. BHD. (Malaysia); Carl Zeiss Pte. Ltd. (Singapore); Carl Zeiss Co. Ltd. (Thailand; 49%); Carl Zeiss Pty. Ltd. Canberra Company (Australia); Carl Zeiss (N.Z.) Ltd. (New Zealand). SCHOTT GLAS: Schott Auer GmbH; Schott Desag AG (92.2%); Schott Jenaer Glas GmbH; LIB Industrie Beteiligung GmbH; Schott Medica GmbH; Schott-Geräte GmbH; Schott Glas Export GmbH; Schott Glaswerke Beteiligungs-GmbH; Schott-Rohrglas GmbH; Schott Spezialglas GmbH; Schott Glaskontor; Schott ML GmbH; Schott-Zeiss Assekuranzkontor GmbH (50%); Schott-Zwiesel AG (71.9%); Schott Amphabel S.A. (Belgium); Schott Verrerie Médicale S.à.r.l. (France); Schott France S.à.r.l.; Schott-Zeiss France Holding S.à.r.l. (74.5%); Schott SFAM Société Françse d'Ampoules Mécaniques S.à.r.l.; VTF Industries S.à.r.l.; Schott Fibre Optics (UK) Ltd.; Schott Glass Ltd. (U.K.); Schott Industrial Glass Ltd. (U.K.); T.G.S. S.p.A. (Italy; 80%); V.I.T. Italvetro S.p.A. (Italy; 80%); Pieterman Glas B.V. (Netherlands); Schott Glaverbel B.V. (Netherlands; 75%); Schott Glaverbel Holding B.V. (Netherlands; 66.7%); Schott Benelux B.V. (Netherlands); Schott Svenska AB (Sweden); Schott Atevi S.A. (Spain); Schott Ibérica S.A. (Spain); Travisa Transformadora del Vidrio S.A. (Spain); Schott Electronic Packaging Lanskroun s.r.o. (Czech Republic); STV Glass a.s. (Czech Republic; 51%); Gemtron Corporation (U.S.A.; 51%); Schott Corporation (U.S.A.); Schott Fiber Optics Inc. (U.S.A.); Schott Glass Technologies Inc. (U.S.A.); Schott Scientific Glass Inc. (U.S.A.); Schott Pharmaceutical Packaging Inc. (U.S.A.); SGBM Inc. (U.S.A.); Day Specialties Corporation (Canada; 51%); Schott Canada Inc.; Schott Vitronac Ltda. (Brazil); Schott Glaverbel do Brasil Ltda. (Brazil; 70%); Schottbras Indústria de Vidros Ltda. (Brazil); Schott Vitrofarma Ltda. (Brazil); Schott Vitrosul Ltda. (Brazil); Gemtron de México S.A. de C.V.; Schott Igar Glass (Indonesia); Schott Nippon KK (Japan); Schott Glass (Malaysia) SDN. BHD. (93%); Schott Electronic Packaging Asia Pte. Ltd. (Singapore).
Principal Operating Units: CARL ZEISS GROUP: Consumer Optics Business Group; Medical Systems Business Group; Microscopy Business Group; Opto-Electronic Systems Business Group; Semiconductor Technology Business Group; Industrial Metrology Business Group. SCHOTT GROUP: Home Appliances Business Group; Television Business Group; Consumer Glassware Business Group; Industry Business Group; Optics Business Group; Opto-Electronics Business Group; Tubing Business Group; Pharmaceutical Packaging Business Group.
Principal Competitors: Avimo Group Limited; BMC Industries, Inc.; Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company; Corning Incorporated; Fisher Scientific International Inc.; JDS Uniphase Corporation; LG Electronics; LightPath Technologies, Inc.; Nikon Corporation; Nippon Sheet Glass Company, Limited; Pilkington plc; PPG Industries, Inc.; Southwall Technologies Inc.; ThermoSpectra Corporation; US Precision Glass Company.
Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: