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Carl von Siemens

1897–1904

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A cosmopolitan and an achiever

Carl von Siemens – a younger brother of the company founder – ventured out into the wide world at an early age. After his first taste of the entrepreneur’s life in Berlin, he found his skills put to the test by subsequent assignments in London and Paris. He achieved his greatest successes in Russia. It was there that he built and later maintained the state telegraph network, the first major project of Siemens & Halske. In the mid-1870s he played a major role in laying Siemens transatlantic cable; that project, together with the Indo-European Telegraph Line, was the starting point from which the company grew into today’s global operation.

“I seem to be born to great ventures, because wherever I’ve gone so far, great things have always arisen. […] All the major business transactions that were completed during my 11 years of slave labor in London – the Indo-European and Russian-Japanese cables, DUS cable, French cable – [would not have] happened without my help.“

Carl von Siemens to his brother Werner, December 26, 1888
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1843

1843

Carl von Siemens was born in 1829, the tenth of a total of 14 children. When he was just ten years old, both parents died within months of each other.

He lived for a time with an uncle in Lübeck, until in 1843 his older brother Werner brought him to Berlin. The two, together with two more brothers, Walter and Friedrich, roomed together in close quarters in what today we might call “family lodgings.” Werner attentively supervised his brothers’ schooling. Carl, in particular, earned Werner’s attention, especially as he was soon helping his older brother with his scientific experiments.

  • The document awarding guardianship to Werner von Siemens for his brothers Friedrich, Carl and Walter, 1845

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1851

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The Great Exhibition opens at the Crystal Palace in London’s Hyde Park, 1851.

He lived for a time with an uncle in Lübeck, until in 1843 his older brother Werner brought him to Berlin. The two, together with two more brothers, Walter and Friedrich, roomed together in close quarters in what today we might call “family lodgings.” Werner attentively supervised his brothers’ schooling.

Carl, in particular, earned Werner’s attention, especially as he was soon helping his older brother with his scientific experiments.

1853

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The success of the Russian business caused Siemens & Halske’s revenues to proliferate; at times, exports contributed more than 80 percent.

His next stop was St. Petersburg, where at just 24 years old, Carl was put in charge of laying some 9,000 kilometers of telegraph cable. Long-term maintenance contracts proved to be even more lucrative than actually constructing the telegraph lines, and provided Siemens & Halske with a reliable source of income until 1867.

1869

Siemens Brothers became a global player in the submarine cable market. The English subsidiary had laid another eight transatlantic cables by 1901.

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The Faraday could carry 1.5 metric tons of cable in a single load

The cable ran as much as 5,000 meters below the surface

Each cable drum was about 12 meters in diameter

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Carl worked primarily in electrical telegraphy for decades. That situation changed in the winter of 1880 when, at the age of 51, he returned to St. Petersburg and Siemens began manufacturing dynamos and electric motors in Russia as well. The first electrification projects quickly followed, and building and running them called for a large investment.

In 1882, Siemens introduced Russia’s first electric train at the All-Russian Art and Industrial Exhibition in Moscow. Czar Alexander III was delighted.

1880

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In 1882, Siemens introduced Russia’s first electric train at the All-Russian Art and Industrial Exhibition in Moscow. Czar Alexander III was delighted.

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Carl worked primarily in electrical telegraphy for decades. That situation changed in the winter of 1880 when, at the age of 51, he returned to St. Petersburg and Siemens began manufacturing dynamos and electric motors in Russia as well. The first electrification projects quickly followed, and building and running them called for a large investment.

1886

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12,000 incandescent lamps illuminated the Czar’s Winter Palace for a court ball in January 1887.

Carl von Siemens joined forces with local business partners to found the St. Petersburg Electric Lighting Company in the form of a stock corporation. The Russian government awarded the company the right to install and operate electric power plants and power grids all over the country.

1897

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In 1897, Siemens & Halske in Berlin also became a stock corporation, though the company founder had resisted a public offering to the very last. Carl, now age 68 and the last representative of the founding generation, was appointed its first Chairman of the Supervisory Board. In that capacity, he oversaw the process of handing over management to the second generation of Siemens entrepreneurs.

Shaping the future book cover
Discover the Siemens History

Those who study the history of companies are witnesses to exciting developments; they delve into a succession of highs and lows, successes and failures, economic and social changes. And they become acquainted not only with the founders but also with the people who successfully develop the companies, who guide and lead. This is exactly what unfolds in the new book from the Siemens Historical Institute. Through 13 detailed portraits, the book relates how the more than 170-year history of Siemens is interwoven with the history of Germany, Europe, and the world. From the founder, Werner von Siemens, to Carl Friedrich von Siemens to Joe Kaeser, it is clear that the company needs people at the top who lead with courage, drive, and a sense of responsibility, who are not afraid to face the challenges of the times and to shape the future.

Carl von Siemens

A cosmopolitan and an achiever

1843

Under the eyes of the big brother - School time and education

1865 – 1896

From Berlin to the world - International experiences

1869

On the way to becoming a "global company" - New major international project

1880

With optimism and verve - return to the second home

1887

Family business - success factor or phase-out model?

1897 – 1918

Siemens & Halske becomes a public limited company and builds the "Siemensstadt"

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