10 everyday things invented in Germany
Germany has a reputation for innovation, with countless groundbreaking inventions — from the modern automobile to aspirin and nuclear fission. But you probably didn't know these 10 things were also invented in Germany.
It was once the king of the office, but digital storage has somewhat dampened its reign. But the canny hole punch was destined for greatness from the moment Matthias Theel dreamed it up and Friedrich Soennecken filed his patent on November 14, 1886. Alongside his other top invention, the ring binder, Soennecken's two-hole punch brought some percussive oomph to the otherwise sterile office setting.
It's as invisible as it is ubiquitous. But the MP3 was once little more than a pie-in-the-sky idea until tech whiz Karlheinz Brandenburg had his eureka moment in the early 1980s. The MP3 — or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III — was a revolution in audio. It allowed files to be coded and compressed, and thus stored, played and transferred with ease — as file-sharing sites like Napster rapidly discovered.
It's inadvertently become the symbol of manhood and no serious garden shed is complete without one. While the electric drill was invented in Australia in 1889, it was the enterprising Wilhelm Emil Fein of Ludwigsburg who made it handheld and portable in 1895 — thus liberating the frontiers of masculinity forever. And it's been responsible for countless dodgy home repair jobs ever since.
During World War II Americans thought they'd hit Germany where it hurt the most, by putting an embargo on Coca-Cola imports. Never one to bow to a challenge, Max Keith — the head of Coca-Cola in Germany — decided to invent a new product for the German market, using local ingredients, including pomace (the remains of fruit) and whey. And so was born an iconic drink, aiding tooth decay since 1941.
There is an invention in all of us, and in 1908 Dresden housewife Melitta Bentz seized her moment while pondering why her coffee was eternally so over-brewed and bitter. Realizing she could brew a more delicious cup by filtering out the loose grounds with an improvised paper filter, Bentz patented the idea and today the family company, Melitta Group KG, employs around 3,300 people.
As if developing Nivea and Labello wasn't enough, pharmacist Oscar Troplowitz set his mind to inventing something which was so profound it would certify his legacy. And he found it in sticky tape. While the idea had already been explored, it was Troplowitz's invention of leukoplast, an innovative adhesive patch, in 1901 which was the game changer. DIY repairs would never be the same again.
While more widely associated with French chanson, the accordion was in fact dreamt up and designed in Berlin in 1822 by Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann. Born in Thuringia, the craftsman reportedly invented the harmonica before turning his hand to something more iconic. The accordion would go on to conquer the globe, one street corner and busker at a time.
Finland may claim Santa Claus, but the Christmas tree belongs to Germany. Emerging during the German Renaissance, the "Tannenbaum" tradition began as a simple decorative expression of Christmas before going gangbusters in the late 19th century. While historically adorned with nuts, fruit and candles, today the once humble tree has become a kaleidoscopic symbol of one-upmanship between neighbors.
Modern football cleats
While the prototype football cleat was invented in Britain, it was Adidas founder Adolf "Adi" Dassler who invented the modern boot with the game-changing screw-in stud technology in 1954, no doubt aiding a West German victory in the World Cup that same year. Older brother Rudolf Dassler of rival Puma wasn't amused, as he also claimed the innovation.
It's equally loved and loathed, and has made for many an anxious dash across town. Invented by Friedrich Wilhelm Gustav Bruhn in Berlin in 1891 for industrialist and motorcar pioneer Gottlieb Daimler, the taximeter has been heightening blood pressures ever since. But with the advent of Uber, will taximeters be a thing of the past? Not if impassioned taxi unions get their way.