Latviski  English  
Inventions of Latvia
Inventors of Latvia
Legislation of Patents
Patent Office
Science of Latvia
Scientists of Latvia
Latvian Academy of Sciences
Links
Search this site

Walter ZAPP


Walter ZAPP
Born: September 4, 1905, Riga, Latvia
Departed:   July 17, 2003, Switzerland

 




About the inventions

Life periods

  • in Baltics: 1905-1941
    • Riga: 1905-1921
    • Tallin: 1921-1936
    • Riga: 1936-1941
  • in Germany : 1941-1950
    • Berlin: 1941-1945
    • Wetzlar: 1945-1950
  • in Switzerland: 1950-2003

Dr.h.c. (Latvian Academy of Sciences, elected in 2000)

  • Already in 1922 W.Zapp began to think about the creation of a very small camera. In 1932 he established a joint venture together with Richard Jürgens: Zapp undertook to provide ideas and Jürgens was to bear the expenses.
  • For practical implementation of the camera 2 other specialists- optician Karl Indus and mechanic Hans Epner - were involved in the project. The result was so unique that it proved difficult at first to call this small and elegant product a camera. It was the top of the precision-mechanics of that time.
  • The suggestion to manufacture the Minox in Estonia didn't receive the necessary support from the industry people. Careful attempts to attract the attention of AGFA Company also failed. Most probably the reason why the Western companies, incl. German AGFA, turned down the proposal to manufacture the camera was the incredibility that something unique and original has been created. Then R. Jürgens turned to the VEF in Riga where he was welcomed with understanding.
  • The occupation of the Baltic States performed by the Soviet Red Army in 1940 and the politics carried out by Hitler was the reason for Walter Zapp and other Baltic Germans to leave for Germany in 1941.
  • The co-operation between W.Zapp and R. Jürgens was reestablished in 1945 in Germany (Wetzlar) by founding their own independent company Minox GmbH.
  • In the period from 1938 to 1943 17 thousand Minox cameras were manufactured in Riga (VEF). Up till now the company Minox GmbH in Germany has turned out approximately 1 million cameras.
  • In 1950 Walter Zapp interrupted his work by Minox GmbH and moved to Switzerland to persue his calculations and construction work in subminiature photography unbridled by business squabbles. The contacts between Walter Zapp and Minox GmbH were reestablished only after 40 years when the 50th anniversary of the company and the invention were celebrated.
  • The street in Wetzlar (Germany) where the main building of Minox GmbH is situated has been named after Walter Zapp.

Experience:

work as an apprentice-engraver in Tallin
1921 work as an apprentice-lithographer in a printing-house in Riga
1921
1922 work as an apprentice in the photo atelier in Tallin
1932 co-operation with entrepreneur R. Jürgens was begun
1932 - 1936  work on the prototype of the miniature camera in Tallin
1936 - 1940 development of the Minox production technology in VEF (Riga)
1941 - 1945 work in the Electron Microscopy Department of AEG company in Berlin
1945 - 1950 foundation and management of Minox GmbH (together with R. Jürgens) in Wetzlar (Germany)
1950 - life in Switzerland: calculations and construction work in the field of miniature photograph

Life periods

  • in Baltics: 1905-1941
    • Riga: 1905-1921
    • Tallin: 1921-1936
    • Riga: 1936-1941
  • in Germany : 1941-1950
    • Berlin: 1941-1945
    • Wetzlar: 1945-1950
  • in Switzerland: 1950-2003

Dr.h.c. (Latvian Academy of Sciences, elected in 2000)

  • Already in 1922 W.Zapp began to think about the creation of a very small camera. In 1932 he established a joint venture together with Richard Jürgens: Zapp undertook to provide ideas and Jürgens was to bear the expenses.
  • For practical implementation of the camera 2 other specialists- optician Karl Indus and mechanic Hans Epner - were involved in the project. The result was so unique that it proved difficult at first to call this small and elegant product a camera. It was the top of the precision-mechanics of that time.
  • The suggestion to manufacture the Minox in Estonia didn't receive the necessary support from the industry people. Careful attempts to attract the attention of AGFA Company also failed. Most probably the reason why the Western companies, incl. German AGFA, turned down the proposal to manufacture the camera was the incredibility that something unique and original has been created. Then R. Jürgens turned to the VEF in Riga where he was welcomed with understanding.
  • The occupation of the Baltic States performed by the Soviet Red Army in 1940 and the politics carried out by Hitler was the reason for Walter Zapp and other Baltic Germans to leave for Germany in 1941.
  • The co-operation between W.Zapp and R. Jürgens was reestablished in 1945 in Germany (Wetzlar) by founding their own independent company Minox GmbH.
  • In the period from 1938 to 1943 17 thousand Minox cameras were manufactured in Riga (VEF). Up till now the company Minox GmbH in Germany has turned out approximately 1 million cameras.
  • In 1950 Walter Zapp interrupted his work by Minox GmbH and moved to Switzerland to persue his calculations and construction work in subminiature photography unbridled by business squabbles. The contacts between Walter Zapp and Minox GmbH were reestablished only after 40 years when the 50th anniversary of the company and the invention were celebrated.
  • The street in Wetzlar (Germany) where the main building of Minox GmbH is situated has been named after Walter Zapp.

More about the inventor (in Latvian)

Photoalbum