The history

of the famous German optical industry is closely connected to the history of a family by the name of Duncker from Rathenow, Germany. Mainly three people laid the foundation of the development of a whole industry, namely Johann Heinrich August Duncker, his son Eduard Duncker and later most of all his nephew Emil Busch. The foundation was laid by Johann Heinrich a priest of the Sankt Marien church who was born on 14th of January 1767 and died in 1843. During his theological studies he acquired also substantial knowledge about the treatment of glass. After his studies he began to work as a priest but also followed his passion in the field of optics and tried to apply his know how practically by creating glasses, microscopes and magnifying glasses intended to be used by the poor. Since as a priest he was not naturally allowed to form a business he applied for a special permit which was granted by the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm III. Shortly after receiving this permit in 1801 he introduced a machine by which glass could be polished – a revolutionary invention that made it possible to produce glasses for the average income person.

The company

grew fast and was very successful when Duncker suddenly became very ill after a visit of his daughter Jeanette and her husband a businessman by the name of Busch. Unable to continue his business his son Eduard took over. He was a very good businessman and enlarged the portfolio of the company and moved it to its final location in Rathenow, Berliner Street. Due to the fast growing business a lot of work had to be done at home and final assembly took place in the company. After 26 years of being the leader of the company Eduard in 1845 handed the firm to his nephew Emil Busch who had been working there already.

Emil Busch

was not only an excellent businessman but also a visionary technician. He introduced the first steam engines into production and developed some of the most famous lenses of all times introducing the first fully corrected anastigmatic lens of the world, the “Pantoscop”. The company had grown so fast that it was transferred into a joint stock company in 1872 the “Emil Busch A.G.” He continued to create great lenses like the so called Busch Vademecum, a set of lenses that could be combined in several focus variants as a complete lense of different focal length.

He received his glass from Zeiss with whom he had very close relations. In fact both formed a cartel and controlled most of the industry at the time. Since 1900 most of his products were badged ROJA. Some of his most famous constructions were the Rapid Aplanat and in 1910 the Glaukar 3.1 which was a lens unbelievably fast for its time and fully corrected so a true anastigmat.

Busch was a very socialy oriented businessman who took precautions for bad times by building a trust which would then take care of the workers. After world war I the company went into trouble as the optical industry was stifled and limited. In 1927 the shares of Emil Busch were taken over by Zeiss and the company stoped making lenses but concentrated on the production of cameras. But after world war II the history of Emil Busch came to an end when the company was socialized and merged into the so called VEB Rathenower Optische Werke and the VEB Augenptik Hermann Duncker which were state owned and state run companies.

This was the end of this chapter of great German engineering and socially responsible business orientation.


What remains

are some of those famous lens constructions of which we bring back the Glaukar 3.1. first.

The reinvented Glaukar 3.1 that has been fully adopted to the modern world of 35mm cameras – DSLR, mirrorless and some medium format.