C. P. Goerz was founded in 1886 by Carl Paul Goerz. Originally, it made geometrical drawing instruments for schools. From 1888 it made cameras and lenses. During the First World War, Goerz's main production was for the German and Austrian military. Goerz is known primarily for Anschütz strut-folding cameras, Dagor lenses and Tengor, Tenax cameras, (later continued by Zeiss Ikon) and Minicord subminiature camera. C. P. Goerz also made a series of telescopic sights for sporting rifles that saw some use during the shortage of military sniping rifles experienced during the early stages of the trench warfare that was to characterise much of World War I.
In 1895 Goerz founded a branch in New York that was to become the C. P. Goerz American Optical Co in 1905. This company continued to operate independently in the US until 1972.
In 1908, Goerz Photochemisches Werk GmbH was founded in Zehlendorf, Berlin. This company produced roll film and film for the movie industry.
In 1926 the German branch of Goerz merged with ICA, Contessa-Nettel and Ernemann to form Zeiss Ikon. This had major consequences for the company; the Carl Zeiss company held a majority stake in the new company and demanded that the other firms end their lens production. Thus the Dagor lenses were made by Carl Zeiss Jena in limited number in Europe.