Robert Bosch (23 September 1861 – 12 March 1942) was a German industrialist, engineer and inventor, founder of Robert Bosch GmbH.

Robert Bosch
Bosch in 1925
Born23 September 1861 (1861-09-23)
Died12 March 1942(1942-03-12) (aged 80)
Known forFounder of the Robert Bosch GmbH

Biography edit

Portraits of Servatius and Maria Margarita Bosch (1838)

Bosch was born in Albeck, in the Swabian Highlands near Ulm. He was one of twelve children born to Servatius Bosch and Maria Margarita Dölle. Servatius ran a large progressive farm that included a brewery. Robert Bosch's nephew was future Nobel laureate Carl Bosch. Robert Bosch attended the 'Realanstalt' in Ulm until 1879, that included an apprenticeship as a "precision-instrument maker." Amongst Bosch's various employments after graduating was that as a journeyman at C. & E. Fein. In 1881 he fulfilled his year of military service in Ulm, followed by employment with Schuckert & Co. until 1883. In 1883-84, Bosch studied under Professor Wilhelm Dietrich at the Stuttgart Technical University.[1]

A 1888 portrait of 27-year-old Robert Bosch

On 24 May 1884, Bosch sailed for the United States, becoming an engineer under Thomas Edison under Sigmund Bergmann in New York. On 13 May 1885, Bosch sailed for London, where he found employment with Siemens Brothers. On 15 November 1886, he opened his own "Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering" in Stuttgart.[1]: 35–42, 49–50, 78 

In 1887, Gottlieb Daimler asked Bosch if he could build a device similar to the low-voltage magneto device with firing points the Gasoline Engine Factory Deutz was using in their four-stroke engine. Deutz claimed no patents protected the device, so Bosch made four devices. The purpose of the device was to generate an electric spark to ignite the air–fuel mixture in the cylinder at maximum compression. Over the next few years Bosch built a few hundred for factories making gas motors.[1]: 96–98 

In 1893, Frederick Richard Simms met with Bosch, with the goal of adapting the stationary engine magnetos Bosch was building could be adapted to motor vehicles. In particular, a Jules-Albert de Dion tricycle was the test case. Arnold Zähringer, and Gottlob Honold, modified the Bosch device so that it had increased power and a faster sequence of sparks necessary, from 250 rpm up to 1800 rpm. Young Rall also modified the electrode, swapping enamel for the asbestos insulator. The complete device was patented. In January 1898, the new magneto was demonstrated on the tricycle orders were soon followed from Gottlieb Daimler. In 1900, in addition to using the device on motor vehicles, the Bosch magneto ignition was used in the Daimler engines on the Zeppelin.[1]: 102–107, 124–126 

Magnetic ignition

Simms introduced the Bosch ignition device to the English market as Simms-Bosch. In 1899, they entered the French market as the Automatic Magneto Electric Ignition Company, Ltd.[1]: 112 

The first sales office and the first factory in the U.S. were opened in 1906 and 1910 respectively. By 1913, the company had branch operations in America, Asia, Africa, and Australia, and was generating 88% of its sales outside Germany. In rapid succession in the years following the First World War, Bosch launched innovations for the motor vehicle, including diesel fuel injection in 1927. In the 1920s the global economic crisis caused Bosch to begin a rigorous program of modernization and diversification in his company. In only a few years' time, he succeeded in turning his company from a small automotive supplier into a multinational electronics group.

From the beginning, Bosch was greatly concerned about promoting occupational training. Prompted by his awareness of social responsibility, he was one of the first industrialists in Germany to introduce the eight-hour work day, followed by other social benefits for his associates.[2] Robert Bosch did not wish to profit from the armaments contracts awarded to his company during WWI. Instead, he donated several million German marks to charitable causes, including to the establishment of Stuttgart's Robert Bosch Hospital in 1940.[3][4]

In the 1920s and 1930s, Robert Bosch was politically active. As a liberal businessman, he sat on a number of economic committees. He devoted a great deal of energy and money to the cause of bringing about reconciliation between Germany and France.[5] He hoped this reconciliation would bring about lasting peace in Europe and lead to the creation of a European economic area.

Third Reich edit

The Nazi regime in Germany brought Bosch's peacemaking efforts to an abrupt end. The Bosch company accepted armaments contracts and employed an estimated 20,000 slaves (including some 1200 concentration camp inmates who were "brutally abused at the Langenbielau plant") during the war.[6] Meanwhile, Bosch secretly supported the resistance against Adolf Hitler, and together with his closest associates saved victims of Nazi persecution from deportation.[7]

On his eightieth birthday, Bosch was awarded the title "Pionier der Arbeit" (Pioneer of Labor) by Hitler[8] and when he died a year later, he was afforded a state funeral by the Third Reich.

Bosch was keenly interested in agricultural issues and owned a farm south of Munich. He was also a passionate hunter. When he died, he was survived by four children from two marriages. A son from his first marriage died in 1921 following a protracted illness.

In 1937, Bosch had restructured his company as a private limited company (close corporation). He had established his last will and testament in which he stipulated that the earnings of the company should be allocated to charitable causes. Also, his will sketched the outlines of the corporate constitution, which was formulated by his successors in 1964 and is still valid today.

He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1984.[9]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e Heuss, Theodor (1994). Robert Bosch: His Life and Achievements. New York: Henry Holt and Company. pp. 1–30. ISBN 0805030670.
  2. ^ "Robert Bosch". Die Zeit (in German). 12 November 2009. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  3. ^ "Robert Bosch Hospital". Robert Bosch Stiftung. Retrieved 2023-05-23.
  4. ^ "The Robert Bosch Hospital celebrates its birthday". Bosch Global. Retrieved 2023-05-23.
  5. ^ "Deutsch-Französischer Zukunftsdialog" (in German). DFZ. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  6. ^ Heller, Michael (12 January 2014). "Companies in the Third Reich: Robert Bosch and the double balancing act". Stuttgarter-Zeitung. Archived from the original on 31 January 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2020. Many forced laborers worked at the Bosch plants. Bähr and Erker estimate the total number at 20,000 forced laborers, including 1,200 concentration camp inmates. At the end of 1944, the share of forced labourers in the workforce was around 33 percent; in the whole of German industry it was about 25 percent in August 1944. It cannot be said that the forced laborers at Bosch fared better than elsewhere. Especially in the factories far from Stuttgart, such as in Kleinmachnow near Berlin or in Langenbielau (Bielawa) in Silesia, there were attacks. 'The Russian workers and prisoners of war were subjected to arbitrary acts and denunciations contrary to all the principles of the company, and concentration camp prisoners were brutally abused at the Langenbielau plant,' the historians write.
  7. ^ "Robert Bosch und der doppelte Spagat". Stuttgarter Zeitung (in German). 12 January 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  8. ^ "Robert Bosch, Industrialist, Dies in Berlin". New York Herald Tribune. 13 March 1942. Archived from the original on 31 January 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  9. ^ "Robert Bosch". Hall of Fame Inductees. Automotive Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on March 8, 2016. Retrieved March 4, 2016.

Bibliography edit

  • Robert Bosch: The prevention of future crises in the world economic system. London, Constable, 1937 (German edition 1932)
  • Theodor Heuss: Robert Bosch – his life and achievements. Transl. by Susan Gillespie. New York, Holt, 1994. ISBN 0-8050-3067-0
  • Hans-Erhard Lessing: Robert Bosch. Reinbek 2007 (in German). ISBN 3-499-50594-0

External links edit