It is the time for changes: For nine years, Germany has been united in the German Empire. The population grows and so do the major urban centres like Berlin and the Ruhr region. Although the economic boom during the years of rapid industrial expansion in Germany has cooled since the collapse of the stock market in 1873, industrialisation is in full swing. During these decades, famous heavy-industry empires are launched. Railway construction is above all generating constant rise in demand for coal, steel, locomotives and wagons, but also for telegraphs and signalling systems.
The thirst for research and the spirit of invention boost the economic development. Physics makes decisive progress in researching electromagnetic phenomenons, and engineers find more and more practical applications in the field of electricity. In 1879, the inventor and businessman Thomas Alva Edison presented an applicable light bulb that quickly captured the market. The new technology uses the behaviour of electricity in a vacuum glass flask. Further experiments will then lead to the development of the electron tube. – The era of electronics is dawning.
1880 Birth of a success story
Carl Lorenz who was born on 06 July 1844 in Hanover as the son of a musician establishes a so-called “Telegraphenbauanstalt” (telegraph construction company) in Berlin. In the years before, Lorenz had gained experience with his own mechanical workshop and as a partner in Wilhelm Horn’s telegraph factory. In the beginning, the only employees working for the company were Lorenz himself, his assistant Fritz Schlachte and his younger brother Alfred. The first big order: Telegraphy devices for the Berlin-Görlitz rail line.
1881-85 Electrified Berlin
The capital’s electrification proceeds: Since 1881, the world’s first electrical tram line has been making its way through Berlin. Along the main roads and in public places, the present gas lights are replaced by arc lights. In 1885, the power plant in Berlin’s Markgrafenstraße goes into operation. Although Lorenz benefits from the market, he further focusses on light-current engineering.
1883-85 Change of location
Lorenz' company grows and has to move several times. Once, the workshop is destroyed by a fire. They eventually move to Prinzessinnenstraße 21 in Berlin-Luisenstadt (today’s Berlin-Kreuzberg). New steam engines replace muscle power, and an own workshop for railway bell apparatus is established.
On 20 December, Carl Lorenz dies of influenza at the age of 45. Until a suitable buyer has been found, the company is kept in business on an interim basis by his brother Alfred.