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At the zenith

?

It's still just a vague idea, but Werner von Siemens has the feeling he's on the right track. And that his research could break new ground. He's working on a powerful generator that will operate without the auxiliary power that has been required up to this point.

He succeeds! Werner von Siemens builds the dynamo machine in 1866, paving the way for modern large generators.

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The dynamo machine:
It will change the world.

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Electric power to drive machines can finally be generated inexpensively and on a large scale. This opens the door to universal use of electric power.

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Invention is just the start. It takes about ten years of development and testing before the dynamo is ready for series production. The easy availability of electric power accelerates the economy, triggering a boom in electrical engineering. One technological invention follows the next.

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Werner von Siemens has achieved his goal. All his life he has felt the drive to create something lasting. For himself, for his family – and for the world.

And he has succeeded. By 1880 his company is the universal supplier of electrical engineering to the German market. The small workshop in the back courtyard has become a transnational technology company with production locations in England, Russia, and Austria – now employing 1,500 people.

The patriarch has reached his zenith. Werner von Siemens doesn't want to let go. He is 70 years old and still in charge of the Berlin business, handling all important matters himself – and nearly causing the company to flounder …

Times have changed. Competitors are moving onto the market, bringing innovative products and modern strategies with them.

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Siemens is under pressure. The German market is diversifying, and competitors are quickly expanding. Companies all over the world are moving into the power engineering business.

One competitor is particularly successful: Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft, known as #AEG for short.

One competitor is particularly successful: Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft, known as #AEG for short.

Its founder Emil Rathenau favors the very business model that Werner von Siemens fundamentally rejects. AEG offers complete solutions: It is a single source for project management, planning, construction, and operation of power plants, lighting systems, or electric railways, for example. AEG is also a stock company that can finance its major projects on the capital market.

Its founder Emil Rathenau favors the very business model that Werner von Siemens fundamentally rejects. AEG offers complete solutions: It is a single source for project management, planning, construction, and operation of power plants, lighting systems, or electric railways, for example. AEG is also a stock company that can finance its major projects on the capital market.

Werner von Siemens knows the opportunities as well as the risks. He completed one major project, the transatlantic cable, based on the “operator model.” It was ultimately very successful, but the project was always touch and go and highly risky for Siemens & Halske.

In Werner’s view, this does not offer a solid basis for business. What is most important to him is the future of his company as a secure livelihood for the family.

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Family and global company: For Werner von Siemens, the two are inextricably linked. He wants to leave the “empire I’ve founded” to his descendants “undiminished […], so that they can continue to work within it.” (Werner von Siemens, 1887)

The threads intertwine:

the pioneer and self-made man,
motivated and driven

by a feeling of duty
to the family.

Family and global company: For Werner von Siemens, the two are inextricably linked. He wants to leave the “empire I’ve founded” to his descendants “undiminished […], so that they can continue to work within it.” (Werner von Siemens, 1887)

The threads intertwine:

the pioneer and self-made man,
motivated and driven

by a feeling of duty
to the family.

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Brother Carl von Siemens,
head of the Russian
branch office

Sons Arnold and Wilhelm,
the designated successors
of Werner

Werner leads the Berlin company, in close cooperation with his brother Carl. It is not until 1890, at age 73, that he hands over management of the company to his sons Arnold and Wilhelm. But he retains control and continues to make decisions on far-reaching issues himself.

Carl has long been pushing for a change. AEG is in open competition with Siemens and continues to increase its influence. He warns his brother against a “long and bitter fight with AEG” in which “both parties will end up with bloodied heads” (Carl von Siemens, 1888).

Siemens must reform the structure of the company to avoid being left behind. Carl calls for transformation into a stock company to gain greater financial leeway for facing tough competition.

But Werner isn’t ready for that. His vision of the future is unshakeable. The company remains in the family’s hands and will also be managed by the family.

Werner leads the Berlin company, in close cooperation with his brother Carl. It is not until 1890, at age 73, that he hands over management of the company to his sons Arnold and Wilhelm. But he retains control and continues to make decisions on far-reaching issues himself.

Carl has long been pushing for a change. AEG is in open competition with Siemens and continues to increase its influence. He warns his brother against a “long and bitter fight with AEG” in which “both parties will end up with bloodied heads” (Carl von Siemens, 1888).

Siemens must reform the structure of the company to avoid being left behind. Carl calls for transformation into a stock company to gain greater financial leeway for facing tough competition.

But Werner isn’t ready for that. His vision of the future is unshakeable. The company remains in the family’s hands and will also be managed by the family.

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The picture
becomes clear.

The picture
becomes clear.

Werner von Siemens‘ willpower – that is the key to success.

Werner von Siemens‘ willpower – that is the key to success.

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Berlin

1850 Sales office in London
1855 Sales office in St. Petersburg
1878 Siemens Frères regional sales office in Paris
1879 Regional sales office in Vienna
1890 Technical office in Budapest
1892 Siemens & Halske Electric Co. of America, regional sales office in Chicago


In other areas, the company initially collaborates with external agencies:
Brussels (1871), The Hague (1878), Warsaw (1879), Stockholm and Turin (1880), New York (1886), Tokyo (1887), Rio de Janeiro (1888)

Siemens locations

external sales agents

The upshot?
Simple but striking:
Anyone who thinks differently and in new ways can change the world!!

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Credits

Publisher

Siemens Historical Institute (SHI)
Nonnendammallee 101
13629 Berlin
Germany

Responsible for content
(pursuant to Section 55, para. 2 of the German Interstate Broadcasting Treaty (RStV))

Christoph Wegener
Siemens Historical Institute (SHI)
Nonnendammallee 101
13629 Berlin
Germany

Idea & concept

Sabine Dittler, SHI
Maximilian Heinrich, Virtual Identity AG

Script

Julia M. Novak

Research support

Johannes Bähr

Editorial team

Sabine Dittler, SHI
Julia M. Novak
Christoph Wegener, SHI

Design & animation

Joachim Roschka, Virtual Identity AG

Programming

Henk Blankenberg, Virtual Identity AG
Daniel Heidecke, Virtual Identity AG

Music & sound design

TAUCHER Sound Environments

Project management

Mareike Heilwagen, Virtual Identity AG

Project head

Sabine Dittler, SHI

Picture credits, Episode 1

Georg Simon Ohm: bpk, Berlin

Picture credits, Episode 2

Picture credits, Episode 3

Turbulent seas: iStock.com/stanchev

Wake: iStock.com/orbitrob

Underwater: iStock.com/Jezperklauzen

Stormy seas: aim/iStock/Thinkstock

Coastline: Rick Jacobs/iStock/Thinkstock

Picture credits, Episode 4

All other pictures are from the archives of the Siemens Historical Institute or Siemens AG. The copyrights belong to Siemens AG, Munich / Berlin.

All pictures are from the archives of the Siemens Historical Institute or Siemens AG. The copyrights belong to Siemens AG, Munich / Berlin.

All other pictures are from the archives of the Siemens Historical Institute or Siemens AG. The copyrights belong to Siemens AG, Munich / Berlin.

All pictures are from the archives of the Siemens Historical Institute or Siemens AG. The copyrights belong to Siemens AG, Munich / Berlin.

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