150 years SCHMIDT + HAENSCH – Experience our history.

Franz Schmidt und Hermann Haensch1

The company founders Franz Schmidt and Hermann Haensch


We are in Berlin in the second half of the 19th century. The mechanic Franz Schmidt is working in a small workshop for physical instruments in the Alexandrinenstraße. The mechanic and optician Herrmann Haensch is managing a small business in the Adalbertstraße 82 and later in the Karlsstraße 8. They had trained to be mechanics with the same master craftsman, Wilhelm Langhoff. Using an inheritance of 8000 Thaler both decide in April 1864 to continue their activities together, laying the foundation for a company which today is proudly looking back to its more than 150 years heritage. Now the independent, family owned company is managed by the fifth generation.

Heliostat according to Spencer in 1870

Heliostat according to Spencer


For lack of electric light, the heliostat also was part of the standard equipment of optical instruments at SCHMIDT + HAENSCH. Here sunlight was caught with a mirror and the changing position of the incident sunlight was compensated by a gear coupled to a clock.

1879 Mikroskop

Trichinella microscope


At the request of the famous pathologist Rudolph Virchow, SCHMIDT + HAENSCH constructs microscopes for the examination of meat, which should prevent a spreading of Trichinosis.

“A careful examination of the meat is the only way. I have shown that naked eye inspection will only do in a small number of cases, namely when the trichinella are encapsulated and calcified; but mostly a microscopic examination is required.” (Rudolf Virchow)

The pathologist wanted to prevent a long drawn-out discussion about the most suitable microscopes. Even before publication of the document he had already contacted a mechanic in Berlin who had made a name for himself with the manufacturing of microscopes.

“At my request, optician Hänsch [sic] in Berlin (Karlstraße 8) has constructed small microscopes for this specific purpose. They provide 100 to 180x magnification and cost only 10 to 12 Thalers.” (Rudolf Virchow)

1880 Spektrometer nach von Lang

Spectrometer according to von Lang


Electrically generated light was not yet used as it is today, not to mention the creation of a defined wavelength, interference or edge filter. However, the gas-powered Bunsen burner already existed.

Preferably pure salts like sodium, potassium, and also mercury were burnt in the Bunsen burner and emitted their typical wave lengths. Thereby it was possible to produce the so-called standard wavelength with high precision. In the form of spectral light sources they still play an important role today, because they very stably emit only one discrete wave length.

Michelsonnachbau SW

Michelson Interferometer


The foundation of Alexander Graham Bell assigned 2,000 USD to young Michelson who was in Berlin, eager to begin work on his experiment. Michelson used this money to have SCHMIDT + HAENSCH manufacture an instrument. His thank-you letter to the Bell Foundation conveys how much importance he attached to the experiment which the Bell contributions had finally made possible:

“I have not however undertaken this work without consulting several prominent scientific men. The answer they all give is that if successful the success would be grand; but that it is at present impossible to say whether the experiments are practicable or not. All, however, advise me to try. So that, with this assurance and that of Prof. Bell, that in either case he will consider the money well  spent. I shall begin the work with greater confidence.”

Michelson knew how unique this experiment of testing the aether drift’s impact on the speed of light would be, and thanks to his acquisition of a measuring instrument from Schmidt+ Haensch, it was now actually within reach. He initially had the apparatus set up in the Berlin Mitte district. Temperature fluctuations, however, proved to not be its biggest challenge. Ground vibrations presented a serious problem. For the institute and its director, this discovery was an unexpected and undesirable turn of events. Particularly so, because in previous years, the huge amount of 310,000 Marks had already been invested to isolate the rooms, so as to prevent such ground vibrations. In any case, Helmholtz and Michelson now knew how accurate the measuring equipment truly was.

They finally found the astrophysical observatory in Potsdam to be a quieter place. The test, which would go down in physics history as the first Michelson experiment, could now proceed. The result was disappointing to Michelson. He had wanted to prove that the Earth was moving through the aether.

The Michelson-Morley experiment in 1889 confirmed conclusively that the Earth’s motion against the aether, which had been assumed for a long time, did not actually exist. This discovery created a huge unexplained gap in experimental physics, which was only resolved by Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity. For his groundbreaking research, Albert Abraham Michelson was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1907 and became the first American to receive it.

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Quartz wedge polarimeter
(Polarimeter according to Karl Ventzke)


A close relationship with the chemist Karl Ventzke of the Schicklersche Zuckerfabrik laid the foundation for effective sucrose measurement technology which is still being used today.

It established the connection between the optical rotation of quartz and that of sucrose and was used to measure the sucrose content in sugar beet from then on. Until today, the same optical principles are employed in the modern automatic quartz wedge polarimeter, the SCHMIDT + HAENSCH Saccharomat.


Refractometer according to Pulfrich


The basics of refractometry were developed by Ernst Abbe and Karl Pulfrich in 1869. Refractometer operating on the Pulfrich-principle and in accordance to Abbe were built by SCHMIDT + HAENSCH already in the 19th century.

ja Polatimeter Aufmacher ChemieXtra10 2013 Ilmac print SPOSNY1

Circle polarimeter used by the Swiss nobel price winner Alfred Werner


Alfred Werner received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1913. He was honored for his work on the arrangements of inorganic complexes. Contrary to prevailing opinion at the time, which was based on the chain theory by Danish chemist Sophus Mads Jørgensen, Werner developed a new structural model by using metal complexes like cobalt salts. He proposed the geometry of an octahedron and located two isomers at its vertices. His assumption, which was initially purely theoretical, was then successfully verified by means of a SCHMIDT + HAENSCH circle polarimeter in the labs of the ETH Zurich, the so-called catacombs.

Even though it was a controversial issue in the beginning, this theory established a three-dimensional structural model as a basis for different spatial arrangements of organic and inorganic substances in relation to a central carbon molecule. To this day, this model has been crucial to the applications of polarimetry.

Katalog IV von 1910 Projektionsapparate



In 1910 the company presented a projector which could be used by engineers and art historians alike:

“The apparatus built in Franz SCHMIDT + HAENSCH’s workshop not only allows the projection of transparent objects (diapositives, cuvettes, galvanoscopes, etc.), but can also project images of nontransparent lying or standing objects, such as illustrations from books, drawings,metal fractures, anatomical specimens on plates and in jars, bodily objects, and all chemical experiments carried out in vertical containers, as well as horizontal transparent objects, such as crystallizations, depictions of force lines, sound figures, etc.” (Wilhelm Haensch)

grosser Farbmischapparat Helmholtz Koenig

Color mixing apparatus according to Helmholtz-König


With that device color standards were developed in the beginning of the 20th century, which were used for the calibration and control of signal lights. Prof. Manfred Richter, also known as “the holy father of colors”, needs to be mentioned here, with whom Mathis Kuchejda had the honor of working together in the national standardization of colors.

Mr. Kuchejda will never forget the very calm and wise way, in which Richter pointed out, that the young members in the standards committee for color of the DIN would need a little bit longer to understand the complexity of color measurement and color mixing. “Young members” did not only refer to Mathis Kuchejda, who was in his mid 30s at that time, but also to various other colleagues, who bet on the spectral separation of light using interference filters. This should supersede the spectral mixing technique of the Anomaloscope for the detection of the color deficiency of the human color perception, which was produced by SCHMIDT + HAENSCH as well.


ISIS drafting machine


At the very first trade show after the war, Herbert Kuchejda, who was partner in the company at that time, exhibited a drafting table. Drafting tables were not even part of the range of products. SCHMIDT + HAENSCH had the drafting table, Victor Graf from Gotha had the drafting machine. They quickly reached an agreement. Graf sold the rights to the drawing instruments to SCHMIDT + HAENSCH. By the way, he was an amateur Egyptologist and had therefore called his drawing instruments ISIS.

The risk of this purchase payed off. In his letters, Herbert Kuchejda proudly writes about selling 250 pieces to a customer. A huge quantity for the beginning. Production grew rapidly. Later on they even had to work shifts. The drafting machines went like hotcakes. They were not sold but rather distributed to the customers.

ISIS Werkstatt

Heyday of the drafting machines

1960 – 1990

Between the years 1960 and 1990 the production of drafting machines and tables became the company’s mainstay of sales.

SOce CS16314041411130

Saccharomat II


The world-wide first fully-automatic sugar polarimeter with digital display and printer was developed and built by SCHMIDT + HAENSCH.

Werk Koeln Loevenich

Opening of the factory Köln-Lövenich


For reasons of capacity and due to the political situation of West Berlin which was still considered to be insecure by many of the major customers still having in mind the Berlin Blockade, the former management decided to move part of the production and logistics from Berlin to Cologne. High industrial density in North Rhine –Westphalia allowed for direct delivery to clients in that region.

Digi 01

Digitising table


The first version of the worldwide successful digitising table of SCHMIDT + HAENSCH was published. This table was very popular in the 1980s and 90s and put the company into a leading position in the world market also in this area.

MK 1989 1

Mathis Kuchejda was named managing director


The former managing director Walter Teller, succeeding in this position Herbert Kuchejda after he passed away, retired at the end of 1982 after working 50 years in the company. Mathis Kuchejda was strongly recommended to take over the management, even if his professional orientation had been completely different till then. Now the company is managed by the fifth generation of the families Schmidt and Haensch.


BAP 2000


Development and presentation of CAD technology for drafting machines




First fully-automatic table refractometer with measuring range up to 1.72000 and a resolution of 10⁻⁵.

125 2

Celebration 125th anniversary of SCHMIDT + HAENSCH


Gala dinner in the hotel Berlin am Lützowplatz on 24th of April 1989.

Titration 1

First titration system


The SCHMIDT+HAENSCH titration system had been developed to realize on-line titrations under difficult process and environment conditions without major amount of human work. The system allows fast measuring cycles with high reliability. The first delivery was made in August 2000.

Ash Color Turbidity Analyser 1

Ash Color Turbidity Analyser


Development and production of the first automatic ash-color-turbity measuring device which reduces the complete analysis time from 1 hour to 10 minutes.

Online Purity Analyser

Online Purity Analyser


Development and production of the first on-line purity measurement

sh logo gold schwarz

Celebration 150th anniversary of SCHMIDT + HAENSCH


SCHMIDT + HAENSCH celebrates the 150th anniversary with a reception in the Audimax at the EUREF-Campus and a soiree at Capitol Yard Golf Lounge.

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Refractometer ATR TOUCH


Based on the high level of fine mechanics and optics, today SCHMIDT  + HAENSCH is producing and distributing automatic refractometers and polarimeters, density meters as well as color measuring devices all over the world.

Now the area of laboratory measuring instruments is completed by the areas of process technology and automation in order to satisfy the demand for on-line information processing and control.

The modular construction of the opto-electronic measuring systems allows a high flexibility and customer specific solutions.

SCHMIDT + HAENSCH employs a highly qualified team of developers and manufacturing specialists, to guarantee a constant high product quality and sustain and strengthen its leading position in the market all over the world.

The company not only produces standard instruments, but adapts the measuring devices to special requirements of the customer. In addition, SCHMIDT + HAENSCH is constantly developing new applications and procedures in cooperation with the customers. Still today the company is working together with universities, colleges and other research institutes to develop new instruments and optimize methods.

Präsentationsfilm zum 150. Jubiläum

Am 25. April 2014 feierte SCHMIDT + HAENSCH sein 150. Jubiläum in Berlin. Der Film zeigt Meilensteine und wichtige Personen aus der langen Tradition des seit 1864 bestehenden Familienunternehmens.