Reinhold Burger

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Reinhold Burger, around 1900

Reinhold Burger (born January 12, 1866 in Glashütte , Teltow-Fläming district ; † December 21, 1954 in East Berlin ) was a German glass technician and inventor .


Burgers father was glass factory workers with Count zu Solms-Baruth in the industrial town and work Weiler glassworks near the Brandenburg Baruth . At the age of 15, after an internship in his grandfather's glassworks in Burig at Erkner, he began an apprenticeship as a glass technician at CAF Geissler & Sohn in Berlin. After several years at Siemens & Halske , he traveled to the USA from 1889 to 1890 and worked there in New York, Brooklyn, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago. During his second stay in the USA from 1890–91, he failed to found a thermometer company.

In 1894 he founded his own company “R. Burger & Co. ”, the first glass instrument factory of its kind in Berlin. He moved into his apartment on Friedenstraße and founded the company on Novalisstraße in the immediate vicinity of institutes of the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität and the Charité. In 1900 he moved the workshop to Chausseestrasse and in 1904 moved to Pankow. The products included thermometers , laboratory vessels and devices such as glass cylinders, cooking bottles, steam trays, but also water level tubes , vacuum pumps and vessels, gas discharge tubes . In addition, there were experimental devices for physics lessons in high schools and a variety of medical diagnostic and therapy devices . In 1921 he became the owner of the property at Wilhelm-Kuhr-Strasse 3 and relocated there, and in 1927 the company headquarters was also moved to this location.

Reinhold Burger married his wife Charlotte born in Berlin in 1903. Gruber. The marriage had five children.

His company "R. Burger & Co. ”, initially together with A. Aschenbrenner, he managed himself until his death. The company's products were supplied to customers in Europe, the USA, South America and Asia. The Burgersche company continued to exist as a family business until 1982.

A monument to the inventor and inventor was set in the museum village of Baruther Glashütte near Baruth / Mark in the former glass cutting shop. The entire estate can be viewed there on permanent loan from the Burger family. The inventor's workshop as well as original documents and patent specifications are on display. The unique thermos flasks, originally created by Burger's hand, are supplemented with devices from all over the world, as well as Burger's early vacuum pumps and medical-technical equipment. The centerpiece of the exhibition, however, is Burger's first original X-ray tube .

Reinhold Burger grave

He found his final resting place in the family grave in the municipal cemetery in Pankow at the Bürgerpark.


X-ray tube

Behind the German Imperial Patent No. 129974 from 1901 is a well-known invention: In collaboration with Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (1845–1923), Burger developed an X-ray tube. In 1895 Röntgen discovered the X-rays named after him in Würzburg when he was experimenting with the discharge tube . From 1896 he carried out his experiments with tubes that Burger had developed and manufactured especially for him. These Burger vacuum tubes are characterized by electrical connections, a protective layer containing lead and, in particular, by different material thicknesses.

One of the oldest existing "X-ray machines" can be viewed in the Burgermuseum in Glashütte near Baruth / Mark .


Another development by Reinhold Burger is based on the preparatory work by Adolf Ferdinand Weinhold (1841–1917) and the British chemist and physicist Sir James Dewar (1842–1923): the thermos .

Berlin memorial plaque on the residential building Wilhelm-Kuhr-Strasse 3 in Berlin- Pankow

Burger experimented on the production of double-walled vacuum glass vessels based on the containers now known as Dewar vessels. [8] Without being asked, he sent his vessels to the ice machine manufacturer Carl von Linde (1842–1934). He commissioned Burger to supply him with suitable insulating containers for the transport of liquefied air at temperatures of −194.5 ° C. The result was a double-walled, highly evacuated and internally silver-plated glass flask. For transport, the glass body was embedded in a stable, light metal wire container, covered with felt on the inside. In 1903 he patented the thermos flask, which was characterized by the mechanical stability of the inner vessel because it was supported by inserts in the cavity. Dewar lost a lawsuit by Dewar against the British thermos bottle manufacturer and the Burger's patent in the ensuing legal dispute.

“The invention of air liquefaction gave me the opportunity to further improve this vacuum flask, which had the task of reducing light and heat radiation to a minimum. Since this and that bottle did not meet the requirements, I checked the usability of the vessels with hot water in the absence of liquid air. It occurred to me that you could use drinks instead. I took a number of small spherical vessels I had made and filled them with hot coffee, tea, milk, and the like. Even after 24 hours the drinks were ready to use as if they had just been prepared ... "

- Reinhold Burger, interview recording from 1941

In the years that followed, Burger worked on making this invention suitable for everyday use: He stabilized the double-walled glass vessel on the inside with supports with asbestos plates that were fixed by a wire mesh. He developed a process to make the internal silver plating inexpensive and durable. He provided the bottle with a cork and an attachable drinking cup as well as a metal jacket. The vacuum flask was therefore suitable for daily use and mass production. Under the DRP no. 170057 the Imperial Patent Office registered Reinhold Burger's invention on October 1, 1903. He registered the name "Thermos" in 1904 as a trademark under the serial number 71717, registered on August 30, 1904 in the Imperial Patent Office. Patents in Switzerland, France, Great Britain, Canada and the USA followed until 1906. With his product range, such as the thermos bottle and his X-ray tube, he won gold medals and diplomas at the world exhibitions in 1904 in St. Louis (USA), in 1906 in Milan , a silver medal at the International Congress of Physiotherapy in Rome 1907 (Italy) and a silver medal at the 1911 Hygiene Exhibition in Dresden.

The Thermos-Gesellschaft mbH, Berlin W., founded by Burger together with Albert Aschenbrenner and the Viennese inventor and businessman Gustav Robert Paalen in 1906 specifically for the production of thermos bottles, advertised:

“Thermos bottles keep hot drinks hot for 24 hours without preparation, without chemicals, and cold drinks ice-cold for days even on hot summer days without ice. Indispensable for tourists, travelers, motorists, cyclists, water sports, the military, airmen, forest officials, hunters, bureau, factory employees, all workers, for child care, for fountain cures [...] "

The three managing directors Aschenbrenner, Burger and Paalen organized the production, the training of the employees and the marketing of Thermos GmbH. In addition to small technical improvements, Paalen developed an apparatus for sewing the glasses, made it suitable for the Austrian army with an enamelled sheet iron jacket and designed an elegant jug for the bourgeois tea table, which, however, did not find its way into the manufacturers' thermal range. Between 1907 and 1909, Burger and Paalen registered their own patents for various variants of these new creations in Germany, Austria and the USA.

Since Reinhold Burger saw himself more as a developer and researcher than a businessman, in 1907 he sold his 25% stake in the company that held the Reich patent and the protected Thermos trademark to Paalen for 65,500 marks. In 1909, the entrepreneur Paalen renamed the GmbH into a stock corporation with 1 million marks in share capital. Thermos AG (later VEB Thermos) started producing in the Thuringian glassblowing town of Langewiesen .

Thermos GmbH transferred the foreign rights to the American Thermos Bottle Company in New York in 1906. With this company, the burger thermos bottle began its global triumph. Even if Burger withdrew from the German Thermos GmbH or AG, he still helped with the technology transfer to the American business partners. The American Thermos Bottle Company established thermos factories in the United States, Canada, England and Japan. Until the twenties, these companies produced according to the main patents that Burger applied for in the USA between 1906 and 1910.

Cold red light irradiation apparatus

In 1927 he patented the cold red light radiation device he had invented and deepened his research work together with doctors from the Berlin Charité. A large number of radiation devices for the treatment of skin and internal diseases have been developed and tested together with doctors. These radiation machines were used in many clinics and medical practices. Two devices were delivered to the Kremlin Hospital in Moscow in 1938.


  • Götz Goebel: Mr. Burger's thermos . SWR series "Patents & Talents". 12/27/2006
  • Axel Burger / Sven Burger / Georg Goes / Udo Radtke: Glass instrument makers as pioneers of progress, Baruther Contributions to Glass Culture / Volume 5 2019

Web links

Commons : Reinhold Burger  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. R. Burger . In: New address book for Berlin and its suburbs , 1896, II, p. 135. “R. Burger, Glastechnik, N Novalisstrasse 6, apartment: NO, Friedenstrasse 61a IV. Floor “(also * 1896/1773 / * Novalisstrasse, * 1896/1537 / * Friedenstrasse).
  2. R. Burger . In: Berliner Adreßbuch , 1904, I., p. 236. "Glastechnik R. Burger, welcomed 1894, N4 Chausseestrasse 2e, Inh. R. Burger, Pankow, Schmidtstrasse 7 I. Stock, and A. Aschenbrenner" (* 1915 / 410 / * Apartment manufacturer R. Burger, Pankow, Kreuzstrasse 17c 2nd floor.).
  3. ^ Population register: Reinhold Burger . In: Berliner Adreßbuch , 1910, I., p. 354. "Reinhold Burger, Glastechniker, Pankow, Schulzestrasse 41, 2nd floor // R. Burger & Co. founded 1894, Glastechnik, N4, Chausseestrasse 8, owner A. Aschenbrenner (Waidmannslust) and R. Burger ”.
  4. ^ R. Burger & Co. In: Berliner Adreßbuch , 1928, I., p. 434. "R. Burger & Co., Röntgenapparate, Pankow, Wilhelm-Kuhr-Straße 3, as well as the manufacturer Burger as owner of the property ”(compare the entry in the previous year * 1927/453 / *).
  5. ^ R. Burger & Co. In: Berliner Adreßbuch , 1943, I., p. 375. "Reinhold Burger, factory owner, Pankow, Wilhelm-Kuhr-Straße 3 // R. Burger & Co. (registered in the commercial register), glass blowing, Pankow, Wilhelm-Kuhr-Straße 3 “(* 1943/6926 / * Wilhelm-Kuhr-Straße 3; owner: manufacturer R. Burger, tenant: geophysicist Dr. A. Burger, glass blowing company R. Burger & Co., painting shop O. Nieburger, pensioner Pfähler, welfare worker Stenger, vw. Ober Real director Sternbeck).
  6. Patent DE129974 : Device for generating X-rays. Registered on April 19, 1901 , published on April 22, 1902 , applicant: Reinhold Burger.
  7. ^ Adolf Ferdinand Weinhold: Physical demonstrations (instructions for experimenting in lessons at grammar schools, secondary schools and industrial schools) . Quandt & Handel, Leipzig 1881, p. 479 Fig. 362.
  8. In a radio interview on the occasion of his 75th birthday in 1941, the glass technician Reinhold Burger remembered the moment when he had the brilliant idea with the thermos bottle. Originally he wasn't interested in hot coffee or tea. According to the inventor of the thermos
  9. Patent DE170057 , priority 1903-10-01, vessel with double walls enclosing an evacuated cavity with inserts that stiffen the inner vessel, characterized in that they are lined up in the form of small plates or the like on a wire bent in the shape of a ring.
  10. Sella, Andrea: Dewar's Flask . In: Chemistry World . August 2008, p. 75. Retrieved August 30, 2008.
  11. Patent DE170057 : Vessel with double walls enclosing an evacuated cavity. Registered on October 1, 1903 , published on April 25, 1906 , applicant: Reinhold Burger.
  12. Susanne Tölke: Born Reinhold Burger, inventor of the thermos bottle . On Bayerischer Rundfunk, January 12, 2017
  13. ^ Gustav Paalen had his first Dewar vessel patented in Berlin on July 8th, 1907, see p. a. Deutsche Mechaniker Zeitung, Berlin (J. Springer) 1908. In 1908, further registrations followed under his name, some of which competed with others. American production ran under a patent with the number 110888, which was registered in March 1908 in the name of Gustav Robert Paalen and registered in Berlin on October 18 of the same year. Also registered under the numbers 358627, 353628 u. 353629 various subsidiary patents, e.g. B. a "device for fusing the neck seam of double-walled vessels, GR Paalen 1908", in: Deutsche Mechaniker Zeitung, ibid. 1907 and especially 1908 under the motto "Thermos keeps you cold and hot, without fire, without ice" huge sums in Advertising campaigns stuck; one engaged celebrities like the “winner in the Gordon Bennet race of the air in 1907”, Oscar Erbslöh, or the hot air balloonist Poeschel from Meissen, who was proud to report to the media: “Since the thermos bottles became known to me, I have never again taken a balloon ride without taking a number of them with me and have had the best experiences with them. (..) On a winter trip at 11 ° cold, the tea in it was still so hot that you couldn't hold the cup and the drink could only be made palatable by pouring cold red wine over it. "<ref> zit. n. an advertising brochure from Thermos GmbH, published by Verlag des Invalidenbank, Berlin 1908; Volker Köhler reports that the net profit of Thermos GmbH has been reduced by ¾ from 200,000 to 48,000 marks due to the "enormous advertising costs in 1908 from 139,883 marks". quoted n. Volker Köhler, The Birth of the Thermos Bottle, in: Home calendar for the Teltow-Fläming district 1993
  14. Reinhold Burger's curriculum vitae
  15. ^ A new stock corporation , Handels-Zeitung des Berliner Tageblatt, 1909-01-02.