History 1846 – 1891


Carl Zeiss founds a precision mechanical and optical workshop in Jena and in 1847 begins manufacturing simple microscopes.


Beginning of collaboration between Ernst Abbe and Carl Zeiss.


Abbe formulates the “Abbe sine condition” named after him and thus lays the foundation for the scientific microscope manufacture. Subsequently, all Zeiss microscopes are manufactured based on the calculations of Abbe.


Ernst Abbe becomes a partner in Zeiss.


Founding of the glass technology laboratory Schott & Genossen by Ernst Abbe, Otto Schott, Carl Zeiss and his son Roderich Zeiss.


Ernst Abbe establishes the "Ministerial Fund for Scientific Purposes", which provides anonymous financial support to the University of Jena every year. Ernst Abbe’s original plan to transfer its shares in the companies Carl Zeiss and Jenaer Glaswerk Schott & Genossen to the University of Jena fails due to legal reasons.


Death of Carl Zeiss on 3 December, Ernst Abbe becomes sole manager of the Zeiss factory.


19 May: Foundation of the Carl Zeiss Foundation by Ernst Abbe.
With the confirmation of the certificate of incorporation by the Department of Culture of the Grand Duke in Weimar, the foundation is granted the rights of a private legal entity. To honour the work of the man who laid the first ground for the foundation companies and who was determined to pave to connect science and technology in his field of work, Ernst Abbe names his foundation "for all time" the “Carl Zeiss Foundation” (§ 2 of the foundation statute). The first foundation commissioner will be the later Minister of State Karl Rothe.
The foundation deed of trust from 1889 only contains 17 paragraphs, but it clearly outlines the founder's purpose of promoting science. The sociopolitical aspect emerges in connection with the tasks of the foundation with regard to the two “Commercial Establishments” (§ 9), but it is not yet included in the “Purposes of the Foundation” (§ 1), because at that time a transfer of shares in the companies to the Foundation had no relevance. The non-profit mission of the foundation in relation to the Jena population is still absent.


Ernst Abbe transfers his shares to the two companies and those of Roderich Zeiss to the foundation.
30 June: Registration of the Carl Zeiss Foundation as the owner of Zeiss and parts of Schott in the Commercial Register.