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Made in Germany: The Top 10 German Inventions

Are there groundbreaking inventions by Germans? Sure. There is a thing on four wheels that takes people from A to B, to C and back to A. It is known as the “car”. And there are many more useful innovations made in Germany.

Berlin, July 14th, 2020. Update: Kaufbeuren, August 9th, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — Ready for the Top 10 German Inventions? Hold on to your hats. Here we go:

10. THE mp3 FORMAT

The mp3 is modern, useful and German. Photo: Public domain

Whether we listen to Classical music, terrible contemporary Pop music, Heavy Metal, wonderful Soul tunes or stunning Brazilian sounds, does not matter. In 1987, the West German Fraunhofer Institute managed to compress music files to a format that does not need that much space, by getting rid of all frequencies humans cannot hear anyway. Thanks to mp3, we can take entire music collections with us, in tiny players.


Fridges are the coolest things ever.

There is nothing better than cold orange juice with cold soda. It is also good to keep the chicken cold before the time for its consumption has finally arrived. Thank you, Carl von Linde. The German inventor made it happen in 1876, by coming up with the first functional refrigerator.


Steinway’s concert grands look great and sound even better.

Steinway concert grand pianos are available at almost all concert halls on the face of the Earth. Many of the world’s leading pianists would not accept any different brand. Steinway pianos have only one disadvantage: These things to not fit into pockets, backpacks, boxes or regular delivery vans. They do not fit into anything. And it takes ten strong men, five elephants and a T-Rex to carry them. Heinrich Engelhardt Steinweg built is first piano in 1835. Later he moved from Germany to New York, where he founded ‘Steinway & Sons’.


Toothpaste comes in white or the coolest colors.

In 1907, the German pharmacist Ottomar von Mayenburg had a good idea. He experimented with ethereal oil, tooth powder and mouthrinse until he had what he wanted, namely a product called toothpaste. It makes sure we do not have to see our dentists every five minutes.


Checking whether a patient really swallowed a pencil, or actually seeing broken bones that need to heal, was impossible until Wilhelm Konrad von Röntgen invented the x-rays or Roentgen rays in 1895.


Jeans are the best invention since fried chicken.

Levi Strauss from Bavaria was a tailor. When he heard about the gold rush, he went to California as fast as he could. That was where he met gold diggers who complained to him about their work pants. They needed something far more durable. That is how Strauss came up with the Jeans we all wear.


Aspirin works against lots of more harmless health issues. Photo: ‘Ankawü’ License

In 1897, the pharmaceutical company Bayer developed a medication that would be a huge, worldwide success. They called it Aspirin. It is one of the most popular remedies against colds, inflammation, high temperature or pain. And it used to be made in Germany exclusively.


You wanna see all the beauty around you? Use this German invention.

In 1887, an ophthalmologist by the name of Adolf Gaston Eugen Fick invented the contact lens. Warning: Do not attempt to translate his last name from today’s German into English or any other language. First, Fick experimented with thick brown glass lenses on rabbits. His invention paid off and is still popular.


The Porsche Taycan is a fascinating product. Photo by Porsche

Just sit in it, switch on the engine and off you go. When Carl Benz built the first automobile with a combustion engine in 1886, the Germans became the masters of cars (read separate article ‘Made in Germany: The Top 10 Most Remarkable Cars‘). Today, 134 years later, the German auto industry is trying to defend that position against Tesla, the Chinese and others.


Hawaii Toast is simple and delicious. Photo: Rainer Zenz, License

The most important German invention of them all might actually be American. Nobody really knows. But in 1955, Clemens Wilmenrod, a TV chef, introduced it and assured the audience Toast Hawaii was his creation. Just spread some butter on a slice of toast bread and cover it with cooked ham. Place a slice of pineapple on top of the ham, preferably from a can. Then add a thick slice of yellow cheese on top. Put the whole thing into the oven and bake it for a few minutes, until the cheese has melted, but before it turns brown. That’s it.

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