|Predecessor||Gesellschaft für elektrische Unternehmungen|
|Founded||1883 in Berlin as Deutsche Edison-Gesellschaft für angewandte Elektricität|
|Defunct||2 October 1996, brand rights acquired by Electrolux|
|Headquarters||Berlin, later Frankfurt am Main, Hesse, Germany|
|Products||Electrical power generation and transmission |
Telecommunication (Phones and Mobile Phones)
Transportation and Automotive
Printing equipment and Supplies
|Revenue||DM 20.5 billion (1995)|
Number of employees
Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft AG (AEG; German for 'General electricity company JSC') was a German producer of electrical equipment founded in Berlin as the Deutsche Edison-Gesellschaft für angewandte Elektricität in 1883 by Emil Rathenau. During the Second World War, AEG worked with the Nazi Party and benefited from forced labour from concentration camps. After World War II, its headquarters moved to Frankfurt am Main.
In 1967, AEG joined with its subsidiary Telefunken AG, creating Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft AEG-Telefunken. In 1985, Daimler-Benz purchased the AEG-Telefunken Aktiengesellschaft (which was renamed to AEG Aktiengesellschaft) and wholly integrated the company in 1996 into Daimler-Benz AG (1998: DaimlerChrysler). The remains of AEG became part of Adtranz (later Bombardier Transportation) and Deutsche Aerospace (1998: DASA, today part of Airbus SE).
After acquiring the AEG household subsidiary AEG Hausgeräte GmbH in 1994, Electrolux obtained the rights to the AEG brand name in 2005, which it now uses on some of its products. The AEG name is also licensed to various brand partners under the Electrolux Global Brand Licensing program.
In 1883, Emil Rathenau founded Deutsche Edison-Gesellschaft für angewandte Elektricität in Berlin. In 1888 it was renamed Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft. Initially producing electrical equipment (such as light bulbs, motors and generators), the company soon became involved in AC electric 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.
The company expanded in the first half of the 20th century, and it is credited with a number of firsts and inventions in electrical engineering. During the same period, it entered the automobile and airplane markets. Electrical equipment for railways was produced during this time, beginning a long history of supplying the German railways with electrical equipment. According to the 1930 Encyclopedia Britannica: "Prior to 1923 it was the largest electrical manufacturing concern in Germany and one of the most important industrial undertakings in the world."
During the Second World War, AEG joined with other large companies such as IG Farben, Thyssen and Krupp in their support of the Nazis. The company benefited from the use of large numbers of forced labourers as well as concentration camp prisoners, under inhuman conditions of work.
After WWII, the company lost its businesses in the eastern part of Germany. After a merger in 1967, the company was renamed Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft AEG-Telefunken (from 1979 on only AEG-Telefunken). The company experienced financial difficulties during the 1970s, resulting in the sale of some assets. In 1983, the consumer electronics division Telefunken Fernseh und Rundfunk GmbH was sold. In 1985, the company re-took the name AEG and 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 companies eventually became part of the newly named Adtranz in 1995, and the AEG name was no longer used. Electrolux, which had already acquired the household subsidiary AEG Hausgeräte GmbH in 1994, now own the rights to use and license the AEG brand.
The company originated in 1882, when Emil Rathenau acquired licences to use some of Thomas Edison's lamp patents in Germany.[chron 1] The Deutsche Edison Gesellschaft ("German Edison Company") was founded in 1883 with the financial backing of banks and private individuals, with Emil Rathenau as company director.[chron 2]
In 1884, 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 Städtischen Elektrizitätswerke (A.G.StEW) ("City electricity works company (Berlin)") on 8 May 1884.[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. 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 three-phase electric power systems at the end of the 1880s.[chron 5]
In 1891 Miller and Dobrovolski demonstrated 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 distance transmission of electric power could be economically useful. 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 alley) was purchased. This had a railroad siding connecting to the Berlin rail network, but there was no rail connection between the two plants. In 1895 an underground railway link between the two plots was built in a 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 who were also connected in the building of what is now the Spree tunnel Stralau used by the U-Bahn.
By 1889 AEG were known as specialists in the construction of industrial portable drilling machines, some of these were driven by flexible shafts from electric motors. AEG also developed a toothed belt drive to reduce motor speed down to that required by machine tools.
In 1903 the competing radio companies AEG and Siemens & Halske merged, forming a joint subsidiary named Telefunken.[chron 7]
In 1907 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. Behren's philosophy was to create a building which is solid, strong and simple in its structure. It is perfect for doing its job of producing large, heavy machinery. The dimensions of the building were chosen to allow turbines to be transported above other machinery.
In the 1920s AEG became a global supplier of electrical know-how and equipment. In 1923, for example, it provided most of the essential materials and a team of engineers to oversee the electrification of British-ruled Palestine. British firms, at the time, could not compete with the prices of AEG 
The activity of the company soon extended to all areas of electrical power engineering, including 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:
A number of other notable events involving AEG occurred in this period:
On 20 June 1915, founder Emil Rathenau died at age 77.[chron 13]
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. They joined with other large companies such as IG Farben, Thyssen and Krupp in their support of the Nazis, especially in promoting re-armament of the Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe, and Kriegsmarine. During the war itself, they were to use large numbers of forced labourers as well as concentration camp prisoners, under inhuman conditions of work.
AEG worked extensively with the Nazi party in Poland. AEG was forced to relinquish Kabelwerk Krakow, a cable manufacturing plant, to the Nazi party. Kabelwerk Krakow was located in Krakow-Plaszow and used forced Jewish labor manufacturing cables from 1942 to 1944. In 1943, AEG began to relocate goods and evacuate workers. Goods were relocated to various places, including Berlin and Sudetenland. When installing electric and lighting systems for the Waffen-SS training grounds in Dębica, AEG used forced labor from Jews placed in the Pustkow labor camp located in Southeastern Poland.
During World War II, an AEG factory near Riga used female slave labour. AEG were also contracted for the production of electrical equipment at Auschwitz concentration camp.
AEG used slave labour from Camp No. 36 at the new sub-camp of Auschwitz III and also known as Monowitz, called "Arbeitslager Blechhammer". Most of them would die in 1945 during the death marches and finally in Buchenwald.
AEG was a major supplier of grips found on World War II P38 pistols manufactured by Walther Arms, Mauser, as well as on the early wartime Spreewerk P38s.
In an effort to express regret for their use of Jewish slave labor in World War II, AEG joined with Rheinmetall, Siemens, Krupp, and I G Farben to pay DEM75 million in reparations to the Jewish Claims Conference.
In 1945, after the Second World War, the production in the factories in the western sectors of Berlin - what today is the building of the headquarters of DW (TV)Deutsche Welle - and Nuremberg, Stuttgart and Mulheim an der Ruhr resumed and further new works were erected, among 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.
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.
In 1970, AEG-Telefunken had 178,000 employees worldwide, and was the 12th largest electrical company in the world. The company was burdened by, among other things, unsuccessful projects such as an automated baggage conveyor system at Frankfurt Airport and nuclear powerplant construction. In particular, the nuclear power plant at Würgassen, the commissioning of which was delayed by several years due to technical problems cost AEG hundreds of millions of DM. As a result, the company paid its last dividend 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 Headquarter at Berlin-Charlottenburg, Ernst-Reuter-Platz 7 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)
In 1979 Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft AEG-Telefunken was renamed AEG-Telefunken AG by dropping the supplement "Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft", used since 1887. For reasons of European Union, the corporate form AG (Aktiengesellschaft) had to be added. In February 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.
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 German 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 also built the Hellenic Railways TRAINOSE Class 520DMUs between 1989/1990/1991 and 1994/1995/1996.
See also: List of AEG aircraft
AEG manufactured a range of aircraft from 1912 to 1918. The first aircraft in 1912 was of wooden construction and modeled 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 proceeded 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 3 September 1918, the R.I broke up in the air killing its seven crewmen.
The most successful in terms of production figures of all the AEG aircraft designs was that of the G.IV Grossflugzeuge ("large aircraft") heavy tactical bomber, of which one still survives of the 320 built, as the sole surviving World War One German multi-engine bomber.
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.
Models produced include:
AEG also produced for a long period a series of film projectors:
|Hermann Bücher||1928||January 1946|
|Walther Bernhard||January 1946||May 1947|
|Friedrich Spennrath||May 1947||December 1955|
|Hans Constantin Boden||January 1956||February 1961|
|Hugo Bäurle||March 1961||January 1962|
|Hans C. Boden||February 1962||September 1962|
|Hans Heyne||October 1962||December 1964|
|Berthold Gamer||January 1965||December 1965|
|Hans Bühler||January 1966||June 1970|
|Hans Groebe||June 1970||July 1976|
|Walter Cipa||July 1976||January 1980|
|Heinz Dürr||February 1980||December 1990|
|Ernst Stöckl||January 1991||September 1996|
As a result of the breakup and dissolution of the original company, Electrolux acquired the brand rights in 2005 and the name is also licensed to various companies: Currently the brand is being actively promoted by Electrolux; it includes many of the same products that it formerly manufactured, such as power solutions energy devices, telecommunication devices (phones and mobile phones), automation, car accessories, home appliances, power tools, projectors, printing equipment and supplies, water treatment devices, and personal care devices under the AEG brand.
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