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Werner von Siemens

Werner von Siemens (1816–1892)

Werner von Siemens, 1872

Werner von Siemens was a responsible entrepreneur and far-sighted inventor who played a key role in fostering the development of the electrical industry. His construction of the pointer telegraph laid the basis for the Telegraphen-Bauanstalt von Siemens & Halske. Founded in 1847, the company was soon an international enterprise.


In 1866, Werner von Siemens discovered the dynamo-electric principle, probably his most significant achievement in the area of electrical engineering. This discovery helped establish the idea that electricity could be used as a power source. The company also gained worldwide recognition for its successful handling of technically complex, extremely high-risk projects, such as the planning and construction of the Indo-European telegraph line from London to Calcutta and the laying of a transatlantic cable between Europe and the U.S.


In recognition of his scientific achievements and their benefits to society, Werner von Siemens was ennobled by German Emperor Friedrich III in 1888.

Ideas alone have little worth. The value of an invention lies in its practical implementation […]

Werner von Siemens, 1865

Johann Georg Halske

Johann Georg Halske (1814–1890)

Johann Georg Halske, ca. 1855

Johann Georg Halske and Werner von Siemens met in early 1847. A few days later, Siemens commissioned the master mechanic to construct the pointer telegraph that he had designed. Convinced of the invention’s potential, Halske was willing to accept the risks involved in joining forces with Siemens to found a new company. Within a few decades, the Telegraphen-Bauanstalt von Siemens & Halske was a flourishing electrical engineering enterprise.


However, it was precisely the company’s entrepreneurial success and international expansion that caused the business partners to go their separate ways at the end of 1867. Alienated by a working world that was rapidly industrializing and mechanizing, Halske withdrew from the business at the age of just under 54. As a city councilor, he made an important contribution to public life in Berlin, taking a particular interest in the promotion of the applied arts.


Johann Georg Halske remained friends with Werner von Siemens until his death. “Halske” remained part of the company’s name until 1966, and it was only when today’s Siemens AG was founded that the name “Siemens & Halske” was dropped.

Halske was a clear-headed, cautious man of business, and I have him alone to thank for the good business results of the first years.

Werner von Siemens, 1892

William Siemens

William Siemens (1823–1883)