Former type GmbH
Founded 1883
Founder(s) Emil Rathenau
Defunct 1996
Headquarters Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Industry Manufacturing (Electrical industry)
Products Electrical power generation and transmission
Transportation and Automotive
Home appliances
Emil Rathenau

Founder Emil Rathenau.

Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft[1] (AEG) (German: "General electricity company") was a German producer of electrical equipment founded in 1883 by Emil Rathenau.

In 1967 AEG joined with Telefunken creating AEG-Telefunken. In 1985 AEG was bought by Daimler-Benz, later being wholly integrated into DaimlerChrysler forming part of Adtranz. By 1997 the company no longer existed.

After acquiring the household division of AEG in 1994, in 2005 Electrolux then bought the rights to the brand name AEG and now uses it on some of its products. As of 2009 the AEG name is also licensed to various other companies.



AEG (Slogan: "Aus Erfahrung gut") was created in 1887 from the Deutsche Edison Gesellschaft (DEG). Initially producing electrical equipment: light bulbs, motors and generators etc., the company soon became involved in AC electrical transmission systems. In 1907 Peter Behrens was appointed as artistic consultant to AEG. This led to the creation of the company's initial corporate identity, with products and advertising sharing common design features.[2]

The company expanded in the first half of the 20th Century and is credited with a number of firsts and inventions in the electrical engineering field. During the same period it entered the automobile and airplane markets. Electrical equipment for railways was also produced during this time, starting a long history of supplying the German railways with electrical equipment.

After the black period of the Second World War the company lost those businesses located in the eastern part of Germany. In 1967, after a merger, the company was renamed AEG Telefunken. The company experienced financial difficulties during the 1970s resulting in the sale of some of its assets; in 1983 the consumer electronics division was sold and the company re-took the name AEG. In 1985 the remainder of the company was acquired by Daimler-Benz; the parts that remained were primarily related to electric power distribution, and electric motor technology. Under Daimler Benz ownership the former AEG rump companies eventually become part of the newly named Adtranz in 1995. In 1996 AEG as a manufacturing company ceased to exist.

Foundation to 1940Edit

Lauffen-Frankfurt 1891a

Artificial electrically powered water fall at the International Electro-Technical Exhibition – 1891.

The origins of the company can be traced to 1882, when Emil Rathenau acquired licences to use some of Thomas Edisons lamp patents in Germany.[chron 1] The Deutsche Edison Gesellschaft ("German Edison Company") was founded in 1883 with the financial backing of various banks and private individuals, with Emil Rathenau as company director.[chron 2]

In 1884, the Munich-born engineer Oskar von Miller (who later founded Deutsches Museum) joined the executive board. The same year the company entered negotiations with the Berlin Magistrat (the municipal body) to supply a large area from a central supply, which resulted in the formation of the Städtische Elektricitäts-Werke AG zu Berlin (AGStEW)[3] ("City electricity works company (Berlin)") on 8 May 1884; this date is considered to be the birthday of the German electrical industry.[chron 3]

The original factory was located near Stettiner Bahnhof. In 1887, the Company acquired land in the Berlin-Gesundbrunnen area on which the Weddingsche Maschinenfabrik (founded by Wilhelm Wedding) was previously located[citation needed]. In the same year, in addition to a restructuring and expansion of the production range the AEG name was adopted.[chron 4]

In 1887 Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrowolsky joined the company as chief engineer, later becoming vice-director. His work on polyphase electric power led him to become the world's leading engineer in 3 phase electric power systems at the end of the 1880s.[chron 5]

In 1891 Miller and Dobrovolski succeeded in demonstrating the transmission of electrical power over a distance of 175 km (109 mi) from a hydro electric power plant in Lauffen am Neckar to Frankfurt, where it lit 1000 light bulbs and drove an artificial waterfall at the International Electrotechnical Exhibition in Frankfurt am Main. This success marked one of beginnings of the general use of alternating current for electrification in Germany, and showed that long distance transfer of electrical power could useful economically. In the same year the Stadtbahn Halle/Saale (City railway Halle–Saale) opened, the first electric tram system (of notable size) in Germany[chron 6]

Tropp Paul began his work for the AEG 1889/90 until 1893, and Franz Schwechten designed the facades of the Acker- und Hussitenstraße in 1894–95.

In 1894 the site of the former Berlin Viehmarktgasse (cattle market) was purchased. This had a siding connecting to the Berlin rail network produced, but there was no rail connection between the two plants. Therefore, in 1895 a link between the two plots was built as an underground railway in a specially designed tunnel 270 meters long. The tunnel was built by Siemens & Halske (S & H) (later to become Siemens) under the direction of C. Schwebel and Wilhelm Lauter, and is now the 'Spree tunnel Stralau', used by public transport.

In 1903 the competing radio companies of AEG and Siemens & Halske merged, forming a joint subsidiary company with the name Telefunken.[chron 7]

In 1907 the architect Peter Behrens became an artistic adviser.[chron 8] Responsible for the design of all products, advertising and architecture, he has since become considered as the world's first corporate designer.

Berlin AEG Turbinenfabrik Front

Building of AEG Turbinenfabrik (architect Peter Behrens)

The activity of the company soon extended to all areas of electrical power engineering, in particular to electric lighting, electric power, electric railways, electro-chemical plants, as well as the construction of steam turbines, automobiles, cables and cable materials. In the first decades, the company had many factories in and around Berlin:

On the 20th June 1915 the founder, Emil Rathenau died aged 77.[chron 9]

A number of other notable events involving AEG occurred in this period:

  • 1900: Invention of the hairdryer.
  • 1901: The Neue Automobil Gesellschaft ("New Automotive Company") became part of AEG through the takeover of Allgemeine Automobil-Gesellschaft[chron 10]
  • 27 October 1903: A three-phase AC AEG motor in a competition with Siemens & Halske achieves a speed of 210.2 km/h (131 mph) on the test track of the Königlich Preußische Militär-Eisenbahn (Royal Prussian military railway) between Marienfelde and Zossen. This world speed record for rail vehicles was held until 1931.[chron 7]
  • 1904: Merger of AEG with the Union-Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft (UEG) (literal: Union-electricity Company)
  • 1910: Entry into the aircraft building market.[chron 11]
  • 1929: AEG produces its first compressor driven fridges and temperature controlled irons.[chron 12]
  • 1935: Presentation of the world's first tape device Magnetophon K1 based on work by Eduard Schüller at the Berlin International Radio Exhibition. [chron 13]
  • 1941: AEG buys Siemens & Halske shares in Telefunken and the company becomes a subsidiary.

The Nazi era and World War IIEdit

AEG donated 60,000 Reichsmarks to the Nazi party after the Secret Meeting of 20 February 1933 at which the twin goals of complete power and national rearmament were explained by Hitler.[4][5]

During World War II, an AEG factory near Riga used female slave labour.[6] AEG also used slave labour from Camp No. 36 at the new sub-camp of Auschwitz III called "Arbeitslager Blechhammer".[7]

1945 to 1970Edit

In 1945, after the Second World War, the production in the factories in the western sectors of Berlin and Nuremberg, Stuttgart and Mulheim an der Ruhr resumed and further new works were erected, amongst others an Electric meter plant in Hameln.

The steam and electric locomotive plant in Hennigsdorf (Fabriken Hennigsdorf) became a Volkseigener Betrieb (VEB) (people owned enterprise) as the Lokomotivbau Elektrotechnische Werke (LEW) ("electric locomotive works"). The cable plant (Draht-, Kabel- und Metallwerk Oberspree) and apparatus factory (Apparatefabrik Treptow) and other facilities also lay in East Germany and became Sowjetische Aktiengesellschaft (SAG) (Soviet joint stock companies). Over 90% of assets in Berlin lay in the Russian occupied zone and were lost.[8]

The headquarters for the non-expropriated parts of the company was moved first to Hamburg and then finally to Frankfurt am Main, the headquarters in Berlin having been destroyed.[8]

  • 1948: The AEG factories Kassel (FK) were founded on the site of the former MWK Motorenbau Werk Kassel at Lilienthalstrasse 150 in Kassel/Hesse Germany. The first factory part was the high voltage switchgear factory (HSF), later the refrigerator factory (KSF), the ticketprinter factory (FDF), the isolating material factory (IF) as well as the worldwide accepted high voltage institute (HI)were founded. In the early sixties more than 5000 people worked for AEG in Kassel. Today, the site Lilienthalstrasse still produces high voltage switchgear.
  • 1950: The new corporate headquarters is at the Friedensbrücke (Peace Bridge) in Frankfurt en Main. The number of employees in the Group rose from 20,900 in September 1948 to 55,400 persons in September 1957. In the same year the turnover exceeded one billion DM for the first time, however the high level of investment in the rebuilding of the company (1948 to 1956 over 500 million DM) placed a considerable strain on the balance sheet.
  • 1958: The slogan "Aus Erfahrung Gut" is introduced, leading to unflattering parodies such as "Auspacken, Einschalten, Geht nicht" (unpacking, switching on, does not work) or "Alles Ein Gammel" (everything is 'gammy').
  • 1962: The Group has 127,000 employees and generates annual sales of 3.1 billion DM. In Springe a new factory is opened in February 1962 for the production of fluid control units with 200 employees.
  • 1962: Walter Bruch at Telefunken in Hannover develops PAL color television.
  • 1966: The largest industrial space in Europe is created (175 m long, 45 m wide and 26 m high) for the construction using cranes of engines and generators with weights up to 400 tonnes. Robert Kennedy attends the opening ceremony.
  • 1 January 1967: Merger with Telefunken creates AEG-Telefunken, headquartered in Frankfurt am Main.

1970s onwardsEdit

Typenschild-Doppelt gespeiste Asynchronmaschine Apel

AEG electric motor builders plate.

In 1970, AEG-Telefunken had 178,000 employees worldwide and was the twelfth largest electrical company in the world. However the company was burdened by, among other things, ultimately unsuccessful projects, such as the construction of an automated baggage conveyor system at Frankfurt Airport and its entrance into the nuclear powerplant building business. The companies' line of Boiling water reactors were not successful on the market. In particular, the nuclear power plant at Würgassen, the commissioning of which was delayed by several years due to a number of technical problems cost AEG hundreds of millions of DM. As a result the company provided a dividend for the last time in 1972.

The entertainment arm (Telefunken Fernseh und Rundfunk GmbH) headquartered in Hanover was sold. This was followed by the computer mainframe business (TR 4, TR 10, TR 440) (a partnership under the name Telefunken Computer GmbH with the company Nixdorf) was sold to Siemens. The process computer (TR 84, TR 86, AEG 60-10, AEG 80-20, AEG 80-60) continued as Geschäftsbereich Automatisierungstechnik (after 1980 as ATM Computer GmbH).

In 1975, the former Telefunken building at Berlin Ernst-Reuter-Platz was sold. The building had been previously rented to the Technical University of Berlin.

In 1976, to circumvent the requirement of equal participation of employees in the Supervisory Board, Dr. Walter Cipa (Dipl.-Geol.) (AEG boss from 1976 to 1980) created four further companies as wholly owned joint stock companies in addition to the two household appliance companies. (The numbers in parentheses refer to percentage of turnover in 1980)

AEG-Telefunken Anlagentechnik AG (37 %)
AEG-Telefunken Serienprodukte AG (16 %)
AEG-Telefunken Kommunikationstechnik AG (6 %)
Olympia Werke AG (business office technology, 7%)
AEG-Hausgeräte GmbH (22 %)
Telefunken Fernseh und Rundfunk GmbH (12%)

In 1979 AEG-Telefunken Aktiengesellschaft was renamed Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG), as first used in 1887. In 1980, Heinz Dürr became board Chairman (until 1990).

In August 1982 a restructuring plan, backed with federal guarantees of 600 million DM and new bank loans of 275 million DM, fell apart at the first disagreement between the banks. A banking consortium provided an administrative loan of DM 1.1 billion to the AEG Group until June 1983; 400 million of which only to be available on a guarantee by the federal government. Not only was AEG-Telefunken AG affected, but also its subsidiaries Küppersbusch AG in Gelsenkirchen, Hermann Zanker Maschinenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG in Tübingen and Carl Neff GmbH in Bretten. The Alno-Möbelwerke GmbH & Co. KG in Pfullendorf was taken over by the minority shareholders, and separated from the group.

The suppliers to AEG were affected and some filed for bankruptcy—including Becher & Co. Möbelfabriken KG in Bühlertann—with lack of continuity of company policy a factor. The site at Brunnenstraße in the former Berlin district of Wedding was also sold, as were the firms AEG-Fabrik Essen and Bauknecht.

  • 1983/84: the consumer electronics division (Telefunken television and broadcasting GmbH) was sold to the French group Thomson-Brandt.
  • 1985: AEG was taken over by Daimler-Benz AG. Daimler-Benz executive Edzard Reuter (from 1987 Daimler CEO), decides two companies should form an "integrated technology group" with beneficial synergy.
  • 1988: On its 60th year anniversary the AEG-Forschungsinstituts (AEG Research Institute) creates the Carl-Ramsauer Prize for scientific/technical dissertations.
  • 1990: AEG Westinghouse Transportation Systems GmbH is formed in association with Westinghouse Transportation Systems Inc.
  • 1992: Merger (or re-uniting) of the railway business with the Lokomotivbau Elektrotechnische Werke (LEW) in Hennigsdorf, resulting in the formation of AEG Schienenfahrzeuge GmbH (AEG locomotives)
  • 1992: The Swedish company Atlas Copco acquires AEG Power Tools Ltd; later divested in 2004 to Techtronic Industries.
  • 1994: sale of the Automation division to Schneider Electric and of AEG Hausgeräte AG to Electrolux.
  • 1995: AEG Schienenfahrzeuge GmbH becomes part of ABB Daimler-Benz Transportation (Adtranz) (subsequently becoming part of Bombardier Transportation in 2001).
  • 1996: The Annual General Meeting of Daimler-Benz AG chaired by Juergen Schrempp decides upon the dissolution of the lossmaking group.
  • 1996: GEC ALSTHOM acquires AEG Power T&D business
  • September 1996: The company is deleted from the commercial register.


Locomotives and railway technologyEdit

Image-E 60 010

AEG electric locomotive.

AEG played an important role in the history of the German railways; the company was involved on the development and manufacture of the electrical parts of almost all German electric locomotive series and contributed to the introduction of electrical power in Germany railways.

Additionally many steam locomotives were made in AEG factories. In 1931 the company acquired Borsig and transferred the locomotive production to the AEG-Borsig works (Borsig Lokomotiv-Werke GmbH) from the Borsig plant in Tegel. In 1948 the plant became VEB Lokomotivbau Elektrotechnische Werke. In addition to numerous electric locomotives produced for the DR, steam locomotive production continued until 1954.

When the Federal Republic of Germany began implementing AC propulsion systems AEG found itself in competition with Brown, Boveri & Cie. The prototype DB Class E320 was built with Krupp as dual voltage (15 kV and 25 kV AC) test machine, the technology ultimately leading to locomotives such as DB Class 120 and ICE 1.

Only after German reunification and the adoption of the LEW plant in Hennigsdorf did AEG's name return to whole locomotive manufacturing, but only for a short time. "AEG locomotives GmbH " became part of ABB Daimler-Benz Transportation (later ADtranz) and currently the technology developed in the past, in part, now enables Bombardier Transportation to build the very successful TRAXX series of locomotives.


AEG GIV bomber

AEG G.IV bomber (World War I).

see also List of AEG aircraft

Additionally, AEG manufactured a range of aircraft from 1910 to 1918.

The first aircraft in 1912 was of wooden construction and modelled after the biplane of the Wright brothers. It had a wingspan of 17.5 m (57 ft); was powered by an eight-cylinder engine producing 75 hp; unloaded weight was 850 kg; and could attain a speed of 65 km/h (40 mph). From 1912, the construction of airplanes in mixed wood and steel tube construction with fabric covering.

One of the planes designed and built was Riesenflugzeug ("giant aircraft") AEG R.I. This aircraft was powered by four 260 hp (190 kW) Mercedes D.IVa engines linked to a combination leather cone and dog clutch. The first flight tests were satisfactory, but on September 3, 1918 the R.I broke up in the air killing its seven crewmen.

During the Second World War AEG produced machines for reconnaissance purposes, including a helicopter platform driven by an AC motor. This was a tethered craft that could not fly freely; the power supply was carried by three cables from the ground. The machine reached an altitude of 300 m.


AEG bought Kühlstein in 1902, founding the division Neue Automobil Gesellschaft (New Automobile Company), to make cars. AEG withdrew from car production in 1908.[9]

Models produced include:

Film projectorsEdit

AEG also produced for a long period a series of film projectors:[11]

  • Stillstandsmaschine 1919 Projektor 35 mm
  • Theatermaschine 1920 Projektor 35 mm
  • Triumphator I–III 1924–1935 Projektor 35 mm ACR 0710
  • Successor (Lehrmeister) 1925–1935 Projektor 35 mm
  • Kofferkino 1927 encased Projektor 35 mm
  • Lehrmeister 1929 Projektor 35 mm ACR 0709 (Leitz)
  • Mechau Modell 4 1929–1934 Projektor 35 mm
  • Euro K 1938–42 Projektor 35 mm
  • Euro M 1936 Projektor 35 mm
  • Euro G 1938 Projektor 35 mm, Interlock-Version (G-MB)
  • Euro M2 1939–1944 Projektor 35 mm

The AEG brand name post dissolutionEdit

After the breakup and dissolution of the company the brand name was still seen to have a value. Electrolux acquired the brand and the name is also licensed to various companies:[12]

  • AEG Electrolux: white goods; washing machines, dishwashers, ovens, fridges etc.
  • ITM Technology AG produces consumer electronics and telecommunication (mobile phone, home phone etc.) equipment under the AEG name.[13][14]
  • AEG Elektrowerkzeuge produces hand power tools.[15]
  • AEG Haustechnik produces home heating and climate control control (humidifiers, airconditioners) products [16]
  • AEG Industrial engineering produces electrical power equipment, including generators up to 55MW, control gear and switchgear, electrical motors, transformers etc. as well as high power inverters and DC supplies for industrial use.[17]
  • AEG SVS Schweiss-Technik: manufacturer resistance welding machines and equipment [18]
  • AEG Elektrofotografie: Produces photoconductors, specifically photoconductor drums for printing applications (e.g. laser printer/photocopier)[19]
  • AEG Gesellschaft fur moderne Informationssysteme mbH (AEG-MIS): Develops custom LCDs for information systems [20]
  • AEG ID: produces RFID tags and readers[21]
  • AEG Power Solutions (formerly Saft Power systems or AEG Power Supply Systems): produces uninterruptable/backup/stable power supply systems for electric supply sensitive equipment (e.g. computers) [22]

See alsoEdit


  1. AEG-Teilschuldverschreibung Bond (finance) from 1962
  2. The Father of Industrial Design[dead link]
  3. After 1887 called the Berliner Elektrizitäts-Werke (BEW)
  4. The Mazal Library: NMT, Volume VII, pp. 567 (Document NI-391 pages 565–568), The Farben Case
  5. The Mazal Library: NMT, Volume VII, pp. 557 (Document D-203 pages 557–562), The Farben Case
  6. From generation to generation — My great grandmother Personal testament of holocaust survivor.
  7. "Slave Labor in the Auschwitz Region. Blechhammer: Sub-camp of Auschwitz III – Monowitz".
  8. 8.0 8.1 Firmengeschichte der AEG 1941/50 History of AEG 1941–1950 (more details of post war losses and problems)
  9. David Burgess Wise, "NAG", in Tom Northey, ed., World of Automobiles (London: Orbis Publishing Ltd., 1974), Volume 13, pp.1479–80.
  10. Neeubauer,Hans-Otto. "A.A.G.", in G.N. Georgano, ed., The Complete Encyclopedia of Motorcars 1885–1968 (New York: E.P. Dutton and Co., 1974), p.23.
  11. Kurt Enz:100 years German film projectors.Manuscript printing, Berlin 1996, p. 14 ff
  12. AEG Licensee Products
  13. ITM Technology AG : About us
  14. Willkommen auf der Corporate Website der ITM Technology AG
  15. AEG Elektrowerkzeuge
  16. AEG Haustechnik
  17. AEG Industrial engineering
  18. AEG SVS Schweiss-Technik
  19. AEG Elektrofotografie
  20. AEG-MIS
  21. AEG ID
  22. AEG Power Solutions
  1. Timeline 1882
  2. Timeline 1883
  3. Timeline 1884
  4. Timeline 1885–1887
  5. Timeline 1888–1889
  6. Timeline 1890–1891
  7. 7.0 7.1 Timeline 1903
  8. Timeline 1904–1907
  9. Timeline 1915–1916
  10. Timeline 1900–1901
  11. Timeline 1910–1911
  12. Timeline 1926–1930
  13. Timeline 1931–1935
  • Gerd Flaig, Firmengeschichte der AEG ("History of AEG") Compiled by former AEG employee from AEG Telefunken archives

Further readingEdit

  • Erdmann Thiele (Hrsg.): Telefunken nach 100 Jahren — Das Erbe einer deutschen Weltmarke. Nicolaische Verlagsbuchhandlung Berlin, 2003.
  • Aus der Geschichte der AEG: Vor 25 Jahren: Bau der ersten AEG-Flugzeuge. In: AEG-Mitteilungen. Jahrgang 1937, Heft 10 (Oktober), S. 359–362.
  • Miron Mislin: Industriearchitektur in Berlin 1840–1910. Wasmuth Verlag, Tübingen 2002, ISBN 3-8030-0617-1, S. 388–403.
  • Manfred Pohl: Emil Rathenau und die AEG. AEG Aktiengesellschaft, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main 1988, ISBN 3-7758-1190-7.
  • Peter Obst: Die Industrie am Humboldthain (Maschinenfabrik), AEG 1896–1984. Innovations-Zentrum Berlin Management (IZBM) GmbH.
  • S. Müller, K. Wittig, S. Hoffmann (2006): Empirische Befunde zum Konsumentenboykott. Der Fall AEG/Electrolux. Dresdner Beiträge zur Betriebswirtschaftslehre Nr. 116/06. (mehr dazu)
  • Hans-Heinrich von Fersen: Autos in Deutschland 1920–1939.
  • 50 Jahre AEG, als Manuskript gedruckt. Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft Abt. Presse, Berlin 1956.
  • Gert Hautsch: Das Imperium AEG-Telefunken, ein multinationaler Konzern. Frankfurt/Main 1979.
  • Felix Pinner: Emil Rathenau und das elektrische Zeitalter. Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, Leipzig 1918.
  • Harri Czepuck: Ein Symbol zerbricht, zur Geschichte und Politik der AEG. Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1983.
  • Tilmann Buddensieg: Peter Behrens und die AEG, Neue Dokumente zur Baugeschichte der Fabriken am Humboldthain. In: Schloss Charlottenburg Berlin-Preußen. Deutscher Kunstverlag, München 1971.
  • Peter Strunk: Die AEG. Aufstieg und Niedergang einer Industrielegende. Nicolai, Berlin 2000.
  • Jahresringe Verband für Vorruhestand und aktives Alter, Land Brandenburg e. V. (Hrsg.): Zeitzeugnisse 1945–1990. Teil I (1999) und II (2000).

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