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To mark the 25th anniversary of the apprentices’ workshop, Robert Bosch himself set the ball rolling by donating 300,000 reichsmarks to the newly founded Bosch-Jugendhilfe (Bosch youth welfare) in June 1938. Funding was assumed by Robert Bosch GmbH in 1948.
The objective of the Jugendhilfe initiative was laid out in its charter. It pledges to “provide one-off or ongoing support to talented associates whose personal qualities and character make them worthy of such assistance, and who are unable to meet the costs of training and education themselves. Under these same conditions, this support will also be available to the children of current or former associates.”
The first head of Bosch-Jugendhilfe was Theodor Bäuerle. Back in 1916, he and Robert Bosch had already set up Förderung der Begabten, an association whose aim was to support the gifted. Bosch-Jugendhilfe was very close to Bäuerle’s heart.
Personal support, mutual trust, concern for the scholarship holders’ questions and worries, providing encouragement, and being a source of strength are the principles that have always underpinned the initiative’s activities, both past and present. Bosch-Jugendhilfe supports all courses of study, regardless of whether Bosch could be a potential future employer for the scholarship holders. Since its establishment, the initiative has helped nearly 3,500 school students, apprentices, and students in higher education.
Bicycles have long played a role at Bosch. Starting in 1890, Robert Bosch himself would visit many customers by bicycle, heading out on his then state-of-the-art safety bike. The bicycle light, consisting of a generator and a bicycle headlight, was introduced in 1923 and would continue to be a best seller well into the 1960s.
A new success story started ten years ago with the founding of the eBike Systems unit. Following promising first attempts and encouraging research findings, a handful associates accepted the challenge in 2009. In virtually no time flat, they laid the groundwork necessary to unveil the Bosch eBike drive system just a year later, all while overseeing development, test runs in inclement weather to optimize components, product presentations within the company, and efforts to attract partners from among bicycle manufacturers. Their hard work paid off when volume production began in 2011. Since then, the only way has been up.
The increasing popularity of the automobile at the start of the 20th century had a lot to do with a series of major racing events. In 1900, for example, the American journalist James Gordon Bennett Jr. organized the Gordon Bennett Cup for the first time. Three vehicles per country were allowed to compete in the first international race between automakers. The vehicles had to have been built entirely in their respective country of origin.
After a British racer took home the trophy in 1902, the following year’s race was held on a 528-kilometer circuit in Britain.
Vehicles from the United Kingdom, France, the United States, and Germany competed in the race on July 2, 1903. The Belgian racer Camille Jenatzy, known as the “red devil” on account of his ambition and derring-do behind the wheel, drove his Mercedes to victory in 6 hours and 39 minutes. In the years that followed, he would become Bosch’s most important advertising motif. Jenatzy’s win was also the first for a German model in a major race, marking the start of Mercedes’ long-standing relationship with the world of motorsports. The Belgian’s victory was a remarkable one indeed: the car originally slated to compete in the race was destroyed in a fire at the factory, forcing Jenatzy to use an older Mercedes touring car with low-voltage magneto ignition system – and successfully so.
In the summer of 1976, the Bosch Thermotechnology division started building a single-family home right in the middle of the plant premises. But what was it for? As it turned out, this was no smart new house for the manager of the plant in the Stuttgart-area town of Wernau, but an experimental building designed to demonstrate the energy-saving potential of cutting-edge technology. The conventional oil central heating system was only there as a reserve for peak loads on the coldest winter days, for example. Otherwise, the rooms and water were heated by a combination of a heat pump using warm air from outside and solar collectors on the roof.
The name Tritherm was chosen to reflect the three heat sources used. The results were impressive, as researchers wrote in the publication “Bosch Technische Berichte” in 1979 – even though the question of financing still posed a problem:
“As measurements and experience to date show, in our climate fuel consumption can be reduced to less than 10 percent of its previous value. Wide application of such systems is however at present hindered by the high investment costs involved.”
Although nobody knew it at the time, the Tritherm house was the portent of a promising business field on which Bosch continues to focus to this day: intelligent energy management for buildings that makes clever and targeted use of energy sources not based on the burning of fossil fuels.
Saving resources has become one of the company’s objectives. Read more about sustainability at Bosch here!
A female long-distance pilot in the 1930s? There was one: Elly Maria Frida Rosemeyer-Beinhorn, or Elly Beinhorn for short, who took on the challenge of a 7,000-kilometer solo flight across Africa in 1931, making her a star.
Emergency landings and other adventures were par for the course. But the German pilot mastered them all thanks to her technical expertise and equipment from Bosch. “With your magnets and plugs reached destination safely despite sandstorms, heat, etc.,” she wrote on a postcard sent to Bosch headquarters from Bissau on February 3, 1931 – reason enough for her to accept an invitation to visit Robert Bosch AG in Stuttgart upon her return. On May 12, members of senior management welcomed Elly Beinhorn to the company’s offices and gave her a tour of the aircraft component production plant in Stuttgart.
It is probably safe to say that Beinhorn’s African adventure helped spark her interest in further flights of fancy. In 1932, 1935, and 1936, she took to the skies to circumnavigate the globe and set records by crossing two and then three continents in 24 hours – all with Bosch on board. The company’s products made such a lasting impression on her that she sent a telegram to Bosch in 1933 reading: “previous bosch experience reaffirmed on berlin cape town flight … not a spark plug replaced the entire journey = elly beinhorn.”
Smiles all around: pioneering pilot Elly Beinhorn visits Bosch headquarters in Stuttgart upon her return from Africa.
A step forward at Bosch: a woman takes over management of a regional subsidiary. Three years after the Romanian regional subsidiary opened in 1994, a woman – Brigitte Eble – became its manager. This tradition has been continued by Karla Mafteiu, who joined Bosch in 1995. She is financial director of Bosch in Romania today. She remembers: “Every invoice or order received from the customers was recorded in a large notebook. Everything was done with a pen and a paper.”
A lot has happened over the last 25 years:
The regional subsidiary’s evolution is demonstrated by more than just the relocation of Bosch’s Romanian headquarters from a small office in Bucharest to a modern building. Plants were established in Blaj and Cluj that now manufacture electronic components for automotive and industrial technology. A research and development center focusing on electronics and software development was also been set up in Cluj, with a Business Service Center for Bosch Service Solutions opening in Timișoara in 2003.
It took until long after the war for this economic development to materialize as a result of the détente between east and west, which made it possible to rekindle old contacts and make new ones.
Karla Mafteiu: “Every invoice or order received from the customers was recorded in a large notebook. Everything was done with a pen and a paper.”
The need to protect cars from theft and burglary has been around for a long time, but not quite for as long as the automobile. There was no need for protection against theft through the use of an ignition key instead of a rotary switch. Around 1900, starting a car was a rather complex undertaking involving some ten steps. And using a hand crank was demanding as well. Only properly trained drivers could master it. As a result, car theft was not an issue, but that changed when easy-to-use customer demands became more important. In 1911, Bosch started supplying ignition switches requiring a key and helped to solve that problem. This was the beginning of theft deterrence systems.
Protecting cars from people who want to break into cars and rob their content without stealing them is another central aspect of automotive locking systems. A century ago, that was not the case. Until around 1920, early automobiles were open, making it useless to lock a door. In fact, some did not even have any doors. Locking cars did not enter the picture until automobiles with canopy tops, doors, and closed roofs became popular in the 1920s. The new trends offered a practical deterrent against vandalism and theft. Drivers could safely leave objects lying in their cars.
Until the 1960s, some cars still had different keys for the doors and the ignition. A combined key for all purposes, the precursor of today’s locking systems, gained popularity as the decade wore on. Drivers used the key to start the car by briefly but forcefully turning it clockwise in the ignition.
Meanwhile, Keyless Go systems with programmable chip cards have become standard. But even the cards could be a part of the past any time soon. Why? Ave a look here. [Link Perfectly keyless hinterlegt].
The U.S. subsidiary Robert Bosch Corporation had to mark their adverts with “Bosch Germany”.
The writing was on the wall at the end of the 1930s and there was no way of avoiding it – the Bosch brand was once again expropriated in the U.S. like during the first world war. History repeated itself at the end of the second world war when Bosch companies, brands, and patents in numerous countries were once again expropriated. However, while most of these were successfully bought back elsewhere, it would be almost 40 years before Bosch could do the same in the U.S. Until then, products that Bosch sold there had to carry a special marking. Whereas products in all other countries carried the Bosch armature and logo as a symbol of the brand’s unique character, products in the U.S. had to be marked with “Bosch Germany” or “Robert Bosch”. It was only in 1983 that an agreement was reached with United Technologies Corporation. That company had purchased the expropriated brand rights in 1945, and rescinded now its rights to the brand “American Bosch”. Finally, Bosch was once again just “BOSCH” throughout the whole world.
In the early days of the automobile, there were so few vehicles on the road that they had no trouble attracting attention. By around 1910, however, traffic in Germany had increased so much that legal regulations regarding “honking to issue a warning sign” had become necessary.
Squawking, awkward to operate bulb horns only fulfilled the purpose of warning to a limited degree, leading to the engineers at Bosch developing an electric horn, which they patented in April 1914. The outbreak of the First World War prevented the rapid roll-out of production, which finally took place in July 1921.
The new “Bosch horn” stood out in a number of ways: it responded immediately at the touch of a button, it was reliable, had low power consumption, an aesthetic design, and – its ultimate key to success – it produced a pure, well-rounded tone with a long range. The Bosch horn owed this tone to the principle of the “stopped flute pipe”, borrowed from organ building, in which a second membrane provided the harmonics and therefore ensured the pleasant timbre as well as the required volume. Advertising for the new product highlighted the clear advantage it had: stop making noise, warn!
Robert Bosch in the pharmacy of the newly opened hospital named after him in Stuttgart, 1940
Robert Bosch was not someone for big public appearances or grand ceremonies. This time, however, a long-held dream of his had come true and he did not want to miss the opportunity – the opening of a hospital in Stuttgart bearing his name.
He had been carrying the idea around with him for 25 years, which he had originally only been able to implement provisionally in the form of a military hospital for war wounded in 1915. There was also one thing that was particularly important to him about this charitable project: the promotion of homeopathy, which had convinced him as a healing method – even for his own use. In his opening speech, he formulated a driving incentive that also played a big role for him as an entrepreneur:
“We should all strive to improve on the status quo, none of us should ever be satisfied with what has been achieved, but should always endeavor to do better.”
His hospital, visible from afar on Stuttgart’s Pragsattel hill, was in service for over three decades before a new building was opened just above it in 1973. With further expansions in 1998 and 2007, the building has grown to hold over 1,000 beds to date. Robert Bosch would be proud.