City of Optics
With the opening of two train lines in 1862/63, which met in Wetzlar, the city gained connection to faraway raw materials and sales markets. Iron-making and processing already had a tradition here, but now the optics industry came along and became an important employer in the region. The development of the optics industry is tied closely with the history of Wetzlar and their precision products gave the city an international reputation. A number of companies have their headquarters in Wetzlar for more than 100 years already and they began their pioneering performances from here.
Karl Kellner founded in 1849 his "Optics Institute" in the historic city, which was later taken-over by Ernst Leitz. He upgraded the business to an enterprise with international standings. In 1852, Moritz Hensoldt founded an optics workshop for telescopes, astronomical equipments and microscopes, and his company grew into an additional big business in Wetzlar. In 1897, the company developed the first binoculars worldwide with roof prism. As a company of the Carl Zeiss Group, Hensoldt produces binoculars and riflescopes for Carl Zeiss since 1964. Today Hensoldt is a leading company for precision engineering and the optics industry and also renders optical elements for the industrial branch and for public contractors.
The company Oculus Optikgeräte (Optical Equipment) is a worldwide partner for ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians for more than 100 years and develops instruments for diagnostics, treatment and training, to support their ambitious work. Oskar Barnack invented the first compact camera of the world in 1914, which is in the market under the Leica brand since 1924. Today, the company Leica Microsystems is a globally leading developer and producer of innovative optic high-tech precision systems for the depiction, measurement and analysis of microstructures, for example in biotechnology and medicine, material sciences and industrial quality control.