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Video: The history of Zeiss, from the microscope to the moon landing

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YouTube channel DW Documentary has published a 25-minute program detailing the 175 year history of Zeiss, a name now synonymous with photography despite its origin story beginning well before cameras would become commonplace.

As detailed by DW Documentary, the Zeiss brand came to life in 1846 when Carl Zeiss, a German craftsman, started producing handcrafted microscopes designed for scientific applications. Over the years, Zeiss continued to improve his products and expand his horizons, eventually focusing more on the optical component of the microscopes and other apparatuses he and his team developed.

From microscopes to telescopes, Zeiss pushed forward various fields of science through his own work, as well as the fruits of his collaborations with Ernst Abbe and Otto Schott, who helped develop numerous optical innovations throughout their lives.

While Zeiss’ innovations in the scientific world paved the way for new discoveries, we as photographers likely know Zeiss best for its camera lenses, many of the most iconic of which were developed throughout some of Zeiss’ more tumultuous years following its division during and following World War II.

Carl Zeiss.

Zeiss’ history is littered with successes, but its full story is more nuanced and even controversial at times than many realize. DW Documentary’s deep dive does a great job at showing the history of the company and its lengthy history, from its humble beginnings to its otherworldly explorations.


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