Siemens celebrates 160th birthday

Siemens celebrates 160th birthday

From humble beginnings to global powerhouse

Siemens celebrated its 160th birthday today, charting its rise from a backyard workshop to today's global enterprise.

The company began life as Telegraphen-Bauanstalt von Siemens & Halske in 1847 in Berlin.

But it took just a few decades to turn an engineering workshop specialising in electric telegraphs into one of the world's largest technology companies.

"From its modest beginnings in a small workshop in a back building in Berlin, to its position today as a major global enterprise, Siemens can look back on a longer history of success than most other industrial companies," said the company in a statement.

Siemens maintained that it still upholds traditional values such as business sustainability and first-rate engineering, although Peter Löscher, president of Siemens AG, stressed that the company stands for more than just a sense of tradition.

"Siemens innovations have changed the world," he said, pointing to Werner von Siemens's discovery of the dynamo-electric principle in 1866 which enabled electric power to be generated in large quantities using kinetic energy.

"Driven by Siemens innovations, power engineering began to advance at a breathtaking pace," said the company.

"In 1879 the first electric locomotive was exhibited at the Berlin Trade Fair and the first electric streetlights were installed in Kaisergalerie, a fashionable Berlin shopping arcade."

Siemens also took credit for the world's first public power plant in 1881, which was built in the UK at Godalming in Surrey.

"This hydroelectric facility driven by the river Wey, which produced no carbon emissions, generated power to light streets and a number of buildings," Siemens said.

In an unfiltered history published on the company's website, Siemens also admitted that it was drawn into helping the National Socialists in Germany in 1933.

"Siemens, like the rest of German industry, was drawn into the wartime economy and forced to manufacture goods needed to sustain the war effort," the company said.

"This period marks a dark chapter in Siemens' history in that the company partly relied on forced labour during the war years."

Siemens sustained losses of around 2.6 billion reichsmarks by the end of the Second World War, which accounted for 80 per cent of the firm's assets.

However, by the mid-1960s the company had successfully regained its strength in the world markets.

Siemens & Halske AG, Siemens-Schuckertwerke AG and Siemens-Reiniger-Werke AG merged on 11 October 1966 to become Siemens AG.