200yrs Swiss Geo ×

History

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG


1819

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1819

Foundation of the «Mechanical Workshop Jacob Kern» in Aarau, Switzerland.

1820

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1820

In his workshop Jakob Kern initially produces instruments for technical drawings, for example compasses. Until 1900 they remain the main production branch of Kern and become the worldwide standard for technology and quality.

1835

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1835

Delivery of a Borda circle, a twelve inch theodolite, to General Dufour. It was an essential tool in the creation of the Dufour map of Switzerland.

1851

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1851

Jakob Kern is awarded at the world exhibition in London for the quality of his products.

1857

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1857

Move into the newly built factory building on Ziegelrain in Aarau.

1869

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1869

Foundation of a company health insurance fund joined by all 115 employees.

1871

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1871

A surveying tool revised and improved by Kern is used in the construction of the Gotthard tunnel.

1898

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1898

Surveying work for the Simplon Tunnel is carried out using a specially built Kern theodolite

1904

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1904

The 1904 model precision level was built based on a report by engineer Heinrich Wild from the department of topography.

1915

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1915

The First World War rages – orders from the Swiss army improve a stagnating business trend.

1920

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1920

Kern moves into a newly built factory in Schachen in Aarau. Among other things, it houses the newly established production of optical systems.

1921

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1921

The production of photographic cameras starts, to be later expanded to include amateur film cameras and stereo cameras.

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1921

Company «Heinrich Wild, Werkstätte für Feinmec.hanik und Optik, Heerbrugg» is founded on 26 April 1921.

1923

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1923

Heinrich Wild revolutionises surveying with the first second theodolite T2.

1924

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1924

The «Heerbrugg factory school» for precision engineers, machine fitters and related professions is founded.

1925

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1925

The newly launched binoculars are a great success.

1926

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1926

The first two A2 autographs are delivered to the Amt für Landestopografie along with WILD phototheodolites.

1927

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1927

The rapid development of aeroplanes means that aerial cameras can be used. A lens developed by Heinrich Wild himself is used in the new C2 aerial camera.

1929

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1929

Surveying instruments can now be mass-produced. A welfare foundation and insurance is set up for employees.

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1929

The company WILD generates profits for the first time.

1930

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1930

An early autograph is exhibited at the international photogrammetry congress in Zurich.

1932

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1932

The Wild C12 stereometric camera is launched. It is used for photogrammetric surveying. Countless police organisations around the world used such an instrument for decades.

1932

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1932

Heinrich Wild leaves the company.

1933

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1933

The first WILD A4 autograph is commissioned by the Zurich municipal police in 1933. Devices of this sort are still used in many countries to this day.

1935

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1935

Heinrich Wild signs a contract with Kern & Co. Aarau to develop and manufacture a new range of theodolites.

1939

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1939

The new surveying instruments are displayed at the Swiss national exhibition in Zurich.

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1939

The new surveying instruments are displayed at the Swiss national exhibition in Zurich. 

1940

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1940

An insurance fund, a precursor to the later pension fund, is set up. A housing office is set up to create low-cost housing for employees.

1942

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1942

Manufacture of drawing sets starts. This was in direct competition with a product range that Kern had been producing since its foundation in 1819.

1943

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1943

Two residential sites comprising 18 family homes are ready for occupation.

1944

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1944

The universal astronomic instrument T4, enabling readings of up to 0.1” (angular seconds) is the pinnacle of mechanical optical precision. The T4 was produced for over four decades and cost 70,000 francs.

1947

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1947

The new double-circle self-reducing tachymeter DK-RT is a standard instrument for land register surveys in Switzerland for decades.

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1947

WILD also undertakes pioneering work in the area of microscopy. The first mass-produced research microscopes in Switzerland, types M9 and M10, are launched.

1948

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1948

Hans A. Traber managed the development of microscopy from 1948 –1956. He was famous for his nature programmes on Swiss radio and television, broadcast from 1955 onwards.

1959

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1959

Kern launches the Switar-Objective 1:1,6,f=10 mm with the world's fastest light transmission. This is an important milestone in optics and the stepping stone for the NASA order for the Apollo mission. 

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1959

The optical calculation office for scientific tasks receives its first electronic computer, a «Zuse Z22». The first real «computer» owned by an industrial company in Switzerland.

1961

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1961

The positive company development continues. On 2 October the 3000th employee joins WILD Heerbrugg AG.

1964

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1964

The PG2 plotter marked the breakthrough into modern photogrammetry.

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1964

The hundred thousandth WILD theodolite is calibrated in Heerbrugg and shipped off to be used anywhere on planet Earth.

1968

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1968

The first infrared distance measurement instrument DISTOMAT DI10 (developed by WILD and French company Sercel) revolutionised surveying technology as the first close range meter. It can measure distances of up to 1000 m with centimetre accuracy.

1969

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1969

«Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed». The first moon landing was filmed with a camera that contained a lens developed and manufactured by Kern.

1970

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1970

Kern revolutionises inclination survey from 1970 wih the «geniale Dose» (eng.: genius box). Today, the liquid compensators are standard with most manufacturers of geodetic industruments.

1971

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1971

Launch of the first own electronic distance meter DM1000 based on the phase difference method for distances up to 1000 meters. Transmitting and receiving optics are located behind a common lens.

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1971

At the start of this anniversary year, WILD Heerbrugg employs 4200 employees around the world in manufacturing and sales. A WILD subsidiary is established in the Far East city state of Singapore.

1972

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1972

In September, as part of a capital increase process at Leitz, WILD acquires 25 percent of the share capital in Ernst Leitz GmbH.

1973

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1973

The Kern ME5000 Mekometer is to this day the most accurate laser distance meter. When combined with special software the ME5000 can also be used in close range (> 2 m). Distances of up to 12 km can be surveyed by using special precision reflectors. In 1973 the first generation of mekometers, the ME3000, came onto the market.

1973

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1973

Launch of the then smallest electronic distance meter DM500, which can be plugged onto Theodolite. The DM500 series, consisting of several variants, sold more than 10,000 units in the following years. The transmitting and receiving optics are located behind two separate lenses.

1977

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1977

The introduction of electronic theodolites, starting with the Kern E2, is a major step towards digitisation and automation. The in-built liquid compensator formed the basis for the inclination sensors used today. 

1978

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1978

The recording electronic self-reducing tachymeter WILD Tachymat TC1 can take care of both measuring the angles and logging the measured values.

1978

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1978

For precision levelling, the geodesy department launches the WILD N3 with an integrated parallel plate micrometer and automatic plummet for both zenith (ZL) and nadir (NL) useful for both high-rise and shaft construction.

1980

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1980

Kern has a breakthrough in analytical photogrammetry with the DSR1 stereoplotter and the GP1 plotter.

1982

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1982

Kern launches the ECDS1 (Electronic Coordinate Determination System) in 1982. The introduction of this electronic theodolite revolutionised traditional industrial surveying and greatly expanded its use.

1983

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1983

Digitisation starts: 4 March 1983 saw the world premiere of the computerised theodolite, the Theomat WILD T2000, the start of the computer age in surveying technology.

1985

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1985

In partnership with American company Magnavox Corporation, the first GPS receiver for surveying applications, the WILD WM101, is launched.

1986

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1986

The forming of the WILD-Leitz Group is announced on 17 December 1986.

1987

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1987

The first prototype of what later became the SMART 310, the first mobile 3D interferometer, is put into service in Detroit. This is the start of the Leica laser tracker success story.

1988

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1988

Kern & Co. AG is taken over by the WILD-Leitz Group.

1988

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

1988

The history of the Kern Study Collection starts in August 1988 with the handover of an extensive collection of historic instruments, documents, films and drawings to the then City Museum Alt-Aarau. 

1989

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1989

On 1 January the company WILD Heerbrugg AG is renamed to WILD-Leitz AG, Heerbrugg.

1990

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1990

WILD-Leitz merges with Cambridge Instruments to become the Leica Group.

1991

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1991

Digitisation continues apace: in March the WILD NA2000, the world’s first digital level, causes a sensation at the USA’s most important surveying congress in Denver. It is awarded the photonics innovation prize.

1992

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1992

SMART 310, the world's first industrial laser tracker is launched.

1993

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1993

Takeover of the civil GPS division of Magnavox and the introduction of System 200 – the first Leica GPS product.

1993

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1993

The world's first hand-held laser distance meter, the Leica DISTO, attracts great attention.

1996

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

1996

The Leica Group splits into Leica Microsystems, Leica Geosystems and Leica Camera.

2000

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

2000

American company Cyra Technologies Inc. is taken over and thus the age of high-definition 3D scanning starts.

2000

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

2000

Leica Geosystems (LGSN) is listed on the Swiss stock exchange.

2000

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

2000

The first digital airborne sensor, ADS40, is presented. A major innovation for the world of photogrammetry.

2005

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

2005

Takeover by Hexagon AB, Sweden, and start of a new era. The innovative power of Kern, Wild and Leica Geosystems still shape Hexagon's world today. 

2011

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

2011

A disused civil defence facility at the Aarau City Museum was renovated in 2009 and equipped with the necessary facilities for the reception of visitors. Since May 2011, the Kern Study Collection has been housed in the Aarau City Museum.

2019

Kern & Co. AG Aarau

2019

We celebrate the 200 years anniversary of the founding year of Kern & Co. AG in Aarau as part of «200yrs Swiss Geo x».

2021

WILD Heerbrugg AG
Leica Geosystems AG

2021

We celebrate the 100 years anniversary of the founding year of WILD Heerbrugg AG in Heerbrugg as part of «200yrs Swiss Geo x».