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Siemens is celebrating the 200th birthday of the company's founder
Werner von Siemens, born on December 13, 1816, would have turned 200 years old this year. On November 29, Siemens was marking the anniversary of its company founder's birth by holding a gala event in the Mosaikhalle (Mosaic Hall) at its headquarters in Berlin. In addition to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, more than 100 prominent guests representing government, business, science, culture and the media were present. Joe Kaeser, President and CEO of Siemens AG, opened the ceremony. Nathalie von Siemens, a great-great-granddaughter of Werner von Siemens, Managing Director and spokesperson of the Board of Siemens Stiftung and a member of the Supervisory Board of Siemens AG, as well as Gerhard Cromme, Chairman of the company's Supervisory Board, will also gave speeches in honor of the company founder.

Together with Georg Halske, he established Telegraphen-Bauanstalt von Siemens & Halske, a company of international standing already within his lifetime. With inventions like the electric pointer telegraph, the electric generator and the world's first electric streetcar system, Werner von Siemens had a major influence on the technological development of today's world. His passion for engineering excellence and his relentless drive to create trailblazing innovations still shape the enterprise he founded. With around 351,000 employees in over 200 countries worldwide, Siemens AG is now a leading supplier in the growth fields of electrification, automation and digitalization.

Press Pictures

Werner von Siemens as an artillery officer, ca. 1843

Werner von Siemens couldn't afford a university education. With the goal of studying the natural sciences and technology, he joined the Prussian Army late in 1834. Beginning in November 1835, the young officer cadet attended the army's Artillery and Engineering School in Berlin, which provided him with a higher education – and a solid foundation for his future work in what was then the new field of electrical engineering.

Werner von Siemens, ca. 1847

At the age of 30, Werner von Siemens teamed up with precision mechanic Johann Georg Halske to found "Telegraphen-Bauanstalt von Siemens & Halske" (Siemens & Halske Telegraph Construction Company) in Berlin. He energetically pushed the company's expansion and, driven by his vision of "an enterprise of world standing comparable to that of Fugger", opened his first branches in other European countries in the 1850s.

Werner von Siemens, ca. 1864

Werner von Siemens' reputation for progressive entrepreneurship is due not only to his technological innovations and daring business undertakings but also to his social initiatives. In 1866, Siemens & Halske issued its first so-called inventory premium, the forerunner of today's employee profit sharing plans. And in 1872, Siemens set up a Pension, Widows' and Orphans' Fund – a company pension scheme that anticipated the creation of Germany's national pension system by more than a decade.

Werner von Siemens, ca. 1872

Shortly before turning 56 in 1872, Werner von Siemens celebrated the 25th anniversary of "Telegraphen-Bauanstalt." On the occasion of this event, Siemens & Halske set up a Pension, Widows' and Orphans' Fund for employees in Berlin, London and St. Petersburg. With this early form of a company pension scheme, Werner von Siemens followed social as well as personnel policy goals. On the one hand, the financial support was intended to help improve the social position of the employee, and on the other hand, the goal was to gain the long-term loyalty of qualified employees to the electrical engineering company.

Werner von Siemens, 1885

Werner von Siemens not only formulated fundamental technological principles but – as an entrepreneur – always focused on the marketability of the products and systems solutions based on his inventions. During his lifetime, the pioneering electrical engineer received numerous honors in recognition of his services to both science and society. In 1888, he was raised to the nobility by German Emperor Friedrich III.

Werner von Siemens with his children, ca. 1876

All his life, Werner von Siemens had an especially strong sense of family values. He came from a large family and was himself the father of six children. This photo shows the approximately 60-year-old entrepreneur with his sons and daughters. From left to right: Arnold, Kaethe, Wilhelm and Anna from his first marriage; Werner von Siemens with Hertha in the middle; to the right his second wife Antonie with their youngest son, Carl Friedrich.

Pointer telegraph (replica), 1847

In the mid-19th century, electricity made it possible to profoundly revolutionize communications. Recognizing the importance of this development, Werner von Siemens designed and built an electric pointer telegraph that worked reliably and was superior to earlier devices of the kind. This innovation was the basis for "Telegraphen-Bauanstalt von Siemens & Halske," which he founded in Berlin on October 1, 1847, together with precision mechanic Johann Georg Halske.

Dynamo machine (replica), 1866

In 1866, Werner von Siemens discovered the dynamo-electric principle and built the first dynamo machine – a device that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy economically and lays the basis for heavy-current technology. Under the decisive influence of innovations developed by Siemens, the field of electricity generation and transmission virtually exploded beginning in the 1880s. These developments permanently altered the production program of the entire industry.

Employees at Siemens & Halske's Charlottenburg plant, 1890

In the beginning, "Telegraphen-Bauanstalt von Siemens & Halske" was a pure handcraft enterprise. Not until 1863 did the company acquire a steam engine to power the standardized serial production of individual parts. Five years later, a phase of "escalating mechanization" commenced as the company modernized its production process and introduced mass-production methods. When this phase was completed in 1873, Siemens & Halske had made the transition from a handcraft enterprise to an industrial manufacturing company. In the course of the 1880s, production was decentralized and specialized. As a result, the development and production of dynamo machines, and the production of arc lamps and all other power engineering products was concentrated in the company's Charlottenburg plant.


With the aim of securing its expansion at its traditional location, Siemens & Halske acquires a virtually uninhabited piece of land northwest of Berlin in 1897. Gradually, all operating activities are concentrated at this location. In addition, Siemens builds factory housing and promotes the creation of a communal infrastructure. By 1914, a completely new city district has been created - "Siemensstadt".


Life of Werner von Siemens

Video about the life of Werner von Siemens on the occasion of his 200th birthday celebration. A portrait of the company founder as an entrepreneur and inventor. His passion for engineering excellence and his relentless drive to create trailblazing innovations still shape the enterprise he founded.

Further Information


Peter Jefimiec

Siemens AG

+49 (911) 895-7975