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175 years ago, the young mechanic Carl Zeiss opened a small workshop for precision mechanics and optics. These humble beginnings in the German city of Jena were the foundation of the Zeiss technology company, which today operates worldwide.
The production of glass with game-changing optical properties was one of the developments that helped Carl Zeiss create a company that valued scientific research highly, while never forgetting science’s social impact. Zeiss microscopes have been used by more than 30 Nobel Prize winners. To this day, these instruments offer unrivaled image resolution, with lenses that can display structures one thousand times smaller than a human hair. Light microscopes allow living cells to be examined with extreme gentleness and speed, as well. The Zeiss company was involved in the moon landing in 1969, and thus helped redefine the limits of what humans are capable of. Images of the historic event were captured using Zeiss camera lenses developed specially for space. These lenses were key to the later development of photolithography, which plays a decisive role in the production of microchips. Developments in extreme ultraviolet lithography led to Zeiss winning the German Future Prize together with the Fraunhofer Institute and the Trumpf company.