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History Robert Bosch (2)

Now let`s talk about two Bosch-employees, master Zähringer and the still-apprentice Honold. The former improves the Deutz magneto ignition in such a way that the moving parts become considerably lightweight. They call it low-voltage magneto ignition for higher revs. That first invention from 1898 already makes the company grow, the second one, the Bosch-high-tension ignition founded by Honold in 1902, turns it into a large-scale enterprise.Unfortunately it takes 14 more years until the Bosch inventions really gain worldwide fame. Fabric guide in the true sense of the word is the Daimler engine society whose cars become faster and faster using the Bosch ignition. They carry it`s good name to the USA where a huge market for motor vehicles developed relatively shortly after the turn of the century. A short time before his life`s end old Daimler had agreed to the replace glow pipe ignition by the Bosch ignition.

World War II put an end to that successful story for the moment. Not only that Germany and its products are hated in large parts of the world, the american car industry had left it far behind. Also the not patented magneto ignition including the very successfully sold spark plugs are no german proprietary brands any more. Moreover, the electrical system for cars has spread out since long and the battery ignition has begun its triumph march.

Today one sometimes has difficulties to recognise the activity area of a Bosch representation. Adding to the countless electrical system articles there is a long tradition of hydraulic diesel fuel injection systems which shows that the company was founded as a precision engineering workshop. This helped to overcome the bad times after the first World War e.g., by a newly developed voltage regulator for the direct current generator which nobody dared to deal with because of the complicated mechanics.

Works on the fuel injection pump start by the end of 1922 and take four years. Already Rudolf Diesel had seen the possibilities of a hydraulic injection for the diesel engine, however, had to give up in view of the necessary technological requirements. Imagine that nowadays a diesel engine in a car driving at normal speed on the motorway injects only one big drop of diesel per stroke / per cylinder! Adjusting amounts that tiny requires working with considerably low tolerance (approx. 1/1000 mm).

Rudolf Diesel has invented the engine named after him, but the costly procedure to inject the fuel with the help of air is, until 1927, effectively usable almost only for big diesels (e.g., ships and railroad engines). The new Bosch A- pump puts the Diesel to the truck market and is much later also available for passenger cars. This time copying is made difficult because the art lies in manufacturing. It is, e.g. the liquid friction which cements Bosch almost unique position for decades.

We have now sufficiently appreciated the industralist Robert Bosch who does not develop things himself, but has the proper employees who obviously strictly stick to the goals set by their boss. Much too short is our description of him as a human being. He has e.g. received a lot of criticism from his colleague industrialists because he fundamentally treated his employees different. Quotation: "I do not pay good wages because I have a lot of money, but I have a lot of money because I pay good wages."

Robert Bosch and Henry Ford, two gnarled typesEspecially his activities outside the enterprise allow certain comparisons to a similarly successful man, Henry Ford. He has also founded a worldwide operating vehicle group, however, has nearly driven it against the wall in the end due to his obduracy. Very early he also invents improvements for his workers thus annoying his fellow industrialists.

Both descend from rural environment and build up huge farms after the success of their companies, investing part of the money they made. Robert Bosch has presumably donated more money to the public than Ford, although donations by successful enterprisers have more tradition in the USA. At least, both have founded a very successful hospital.

However, politically they cannot be compared since Henry Ford, with his anti-semitism and his occasional admiration for Hitler tends more to the right, "red" Bosch to the left wing. This might rather be a fatherly- thought, Swabian-bourgeois aligned socialism. Both of them have not always received gratitude for their social reforms. During hard times their employees went out on strike, Ford was hit by it much harder and longer- lasting than Bosch.

There is another coincidence, this time as far as family is concerned : both have survived their sons, however Robert Bosch, at the age of 66 years is given the mercy of a late posterity. After Robert Bosch`s death in 1942 Henry Ford survived him by nearly five years. Maybe because the Second World War raged and so did the National Socialists in Germany who did not fit at all into the future ideas of old Bosch. 02/10               Top of page               Index
2001-2015 Copyright programs, texts, animations, pictures: H. Huppertz - E-Mail
Translator: Don Leslie - Email:

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