The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary German Inventors of all time. This list of famous German Inventors is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of German Inventors.
With an HPI of 89.28, Johannes Gutenberg is the most famous German Inventor. His biography has been translated into 150 different languages on wikipedia.
Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (; c. 1393–1406 – 3 February 1468) was a German inventor and craftsman who introduced letterpress printing to Europe with his movable-type printing press. Though not the first of its kind, earlier designs were restricted to East Asia, and Gutenberg's version was the first to spread across the world. His work led to an information revolution and the unprecedented mass-spread of literature throughout Europe. It also had a direct impact on the development of the Renaissance, Reformation and humanist movement. His many contributions to printing include the invention of a process for mass-producing movable type; the use of oil-based ink for printing books; adjustable molds; mechanical movable type; and the use of a wooden printing press similar to the agricultural screw presses of the period. Gutenberg's method for making type is traditionally considered to have included a type metal alloy and a hand mould for casting type. The alloy was a mixture of lead, tin, and antimony that melted at a relatively low temperature for faster and more economical casting, cast well, and created a durable type. His major work, the Gutenberg Bible, was the first printed version of the Bible and has been acclaimed for its high aesthetic and technical quality. Described as the "man of the millennium", Gutenberg is often cited as among the most influential figures in human history. He has been commemorated around the world and is a frequent namesake. To celebrate the 400th anniversary of his death in 1900, the Gutenberg Museum was founded in his hometown of Mainz.
With an HPI of 79.02, Karl Benz is the 2nd most famous German Inventor. His biography has been translated into 103 different languages.
Carl Friedrich Benz (German: [bɛnts] (listen); 25 November 1844 – 4 April 1929), was a German engine designer and automotive engineer. His Benz Patent Motorcar from 1885 is considered the first practical modern automobile and first car put into series production. He received a patent for the motorcar in 1886. His company Benz & Cie., based in Mannheim, was the world's first automobile plant and largest of its day. In 1926 it merged with Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft to form Daimler-Benz which produces the Mercedes-Benz among other brands. Benz is widely regarded as "the father of the car" and "father of the automobile industry".
With an HPI of 74.92, Nikolaus Otto is the 3rd most famous German Inventor. His biography has been translated into 59 different languages.
Nicolaus August Otto (10 June 1832, Holzhausen an der Haide, Nassau – 26 January 1891, Cologne) was a German engineer who successfully developed the compressed charge internal combustion engine which ran on petroleum gas and led to the modern internal combustion engine. The Association of German Engineers (VDI) created DIN standard 1940 which says "Otto Engine: internal combustion engine in which the ignition of the compressed fuel-air mixture is initiated by a timed spark", which has been applied to all engines of this type since.
With an HPI of 72.08, Karl Ferdinand Braun is the 4th most famous German Inventor. His biography has been translated into 85 different languages.
Karl Ferdinand Braun (German pronunciation: [ˈfɛʁdinant ˈbʁaʊn] (listen); 6 June 1850 – 20 April 1918) was a German electrical engineer, inventor, physicist and Nobel laureate in physics. Braun contributed significantly to the development of radio and television technology: he shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Guglielmo Marconi "for their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy", was a founder of Telefunken, one of the pioneering communications and television companies, and has been both called the "father of television" (shared with inventors like Paul Gottlieb Nipkow) and the co-father of the radio telegraphy, together with Marconi.
With an HPI of 70.93, Werner von Siemens is the 5th most famous German Inventor. His biography has been translated into 54 different languages.
Ernst Werner Siemens (von Siemens from 1888; English: SEEM-ənz; German: [ˈziːməns, -mɛns]; 13 December 1816 – 6 December 1892) was a German electrical engineer, inventor and industrialist. Siemens's name has been adopted as the SI unit of electrical conductance, the siemens. He founded the electrical and telecommunications conglomerate Siemens.
With an HPI of 68.82, Konrad Zuse is the 6th most famous German Inventor. His biography has been translated into 59 different languages.
Konrad Ernst Otto Zuse (German: [ˈkɔnʁaːt ˈtsuːzə]; 22 June 1910 – 18 December 1995) was a German civil engineer, pioneering computer scientist, inventor and businessman. His greatest achievement was the world's first programmable computer; the functional program-controlled Turing-complete Z3 became operational in May 1941. Thanks to this machine and its predecessors, Zuse has often been regarded as the inventor of the modern computer.Zuse was noted for the S2 computing machine, considered the first process control computer. In 1941, he founded one of the earliest computer businesses, producing the Z4, which became the world's first commercial computer. From 1943 to 1945 he designed Plankalkül, the first high-level programming language. In 1969, Zuse suggested the concept of a computation-based universe in his book Rechnender Raum (Calculating Space).Much of his early work was financed by his family and commerce, but after 1939 he was given resources by the government of Nazi Germany. Due to World War II, Zuse's work went largely unnoticed in the United Kingdom and the United States. Possibly his first documented influence on a US company was IBM's option on his patents in 1946.
With an HPI of 68.05, Karl Drais is the 7th most famous German Inventor. His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.
Karl Freiherr von Drais (full name: Karl Friedrich Christian Ludwig Freiherr Drais von Sauerbronn) (29 April 1785 – 10 December 1851) was a noble German forest official and significant inventor in the Biedermeier period. He was born and died in Karlsruhe. He is seen as "the father of the bicycle".
With an HPI of 67.25, Hans Lippershey is the 8th most famous German Inventor. His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.
Hans Lipperhey (circa 1570 – buried 29 September 1619), also known as Johann Lippershey or Lippershey, was a German-Dutch spectacle-maker. He is commonly associated with the invention of the telescope, because he was the first one who tried to obtain a patent for it. It is, however, unclear if he was the first one to build a telescope.
With an HPI of 66.44, Emile Berliner is the 9th most famous German Inventor. His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.
Emile Berliner (May 20, 1851 – August 3, 1929) originally Emil Berliner, was a German-American inventor. He is best known for inventing the lateral-cut flat disc record (called a "gramophone record" in British and American English) used with a gramophone. He founded the United States Gramophone Company in 1894; The Gramophone Company in London, England, in 1897; Deutsche Grammophon in Hanover, Germany, in 1898; and Berliner Gram-o-phone Company of Canada in Montreal in 1899 (chartered in 1904). Berliner also invented what was probably the first radial aircraft engine (1908), a helicopter (1919), and acoustical tiles (1920s).
With an HPI of 66.32, Wilhelm Maybach is the 10th most famous German Inventor. His biography has been translated into 37 different languages.
Wilhelm Maybach (German: [ˈvɪlhɛlm ˈmaɪbax] (listen); 9 February 1846 – 29 December 1929) was an early German engine designer and industrialist. During the 1890s he was hailed in France, then the world centre for car production, as the "King of Designers". From the late 19th century Wilhelm Maybach, together with Gottlieb Daimler, developed light, high-speed internal combustion engines suitable for land, water, and air use. These were fitted to the world's first motorcycle, motorboat, and after Daimler's death, a new automobile introduced in late 1902, the Mercedes model, built to the specifications of Emil Jellinek. Maybach rose to become technical director of the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG) but did not get along with its chairmen. As a result, Maybach left DMG in 1907 to found Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH together with his son Karl in 1909; they manufactured Zeppelin engines. After the signing of the Versailles Treaty in 1919 the company started producing large luxury vehicles, branded as "Maybach". He died in 1929 and was succeeded by his son Karl Maybach. From around 1936 Maybach-Motorenbau designed and made almost all the engines fitted in German tanks and half-tracks used during World War 2, including those for the Panther, Tiger I and Tiger II heavy tanks. Continuing after the war, Maybach Motorenbau remained a subsidiary of Luftschiffbau Zeppelin, making diesel engines. During the 1960s Maybach came under the control of Daimler-Benz and was renamed MTU Friedrichshafen. In 2002 the Maybach brand name was revived for a luxury make but it was not successful. On 25 November 2011 Daimler-Benz announced they would cease producing automobiles under the Maybach brand name in 2013. In 2014, Daimler announced production of an ultra-luxury edition of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class under the new Mercedes-Maybach brand.
Pantheon has 43 people classified as inventors born between 1394 and 1972. Of these 43, 1 (2.33%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living inventors include Andy Bechtolsheim. The most famous deceased inventors include Johannes Gutenberg, Karl Benz, and Nikolaus Otto. As of April 2022, 4 new inventors have been added to Pantheon including Alfred Krupp, Franz Xaver Gabelsberger, and Albrecht Berblinger.
1394 - 1468
1844 - 1929
1832 - 1891
1850 - 1918
1816 - 1892
1910 - 1995
1785 - 1851
1570 - 1619
1851 - 1929
1846 - 1929
1837 - 1895
1883 - 1967
Which Inventors were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Inventors since 1700.