The History of Braun
From humble engineer to leading global manufacturer of small electrical appliances.
In 1921, engineer Max Braun (born 1890 in East Prussia) establishes a small engineering shop in Frankfurt an Main. Two years later he begins producing components for radio sets, supplying the still young radio industry.
From 1925, newly emerging plastics powders open up new opportunities. Max Braun now produces many of his components in self-made plastic-pressing machines. Business success is so great that in 1928 the company moves to new, modern premises on Idsteiner Strasse in Frankfurt.
In 1929 Max Braun’s ideas flow into the new products. He begins to develop complete radio sets, thus becoming one of the first to combine receiver and loudspeaker in a single unit. Braun is soon one of Germany’s leading radio manufacturers.
A further innovation follows in 1932: Max Braun expands his product range and ranks among the first European manufacturers to incorporate the radio and record player in one set.
1935 marks the birth of the Braun brand. The company logo already takes on its familiar form with the raised letter “A”. For his pioneering work Braun receives the award “For special achievements in phonography” at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. In 1938, 1,000 people are on the Braun payroll.
In 1947, Braun gradually resumes production of its core products: Radios and the “Manulux” pocket flashlight begin to flow from the plant.
In 1950 Braun begins series production of the first electric shaver, the “S 50”. This product incorporates the successful combination of an oscillating cutter block with an ultra-thin yet stable steel-foil mounted above it. The principle of foil and cutterblock – in further refined form – is still employed in today’s Braun shavers.
Max Braun dies in 1951. His sons Artur Braun (26) and Erwin Braun (30) take over management. They carry on their father’s lifework and take advantage of new opportunities.
In 1952, Braun enters the field of modern electronic photo technology. First product is the “Hobby” portable electronic flash unit, soon becoming standard equipment of photo reporters worldwide. The Braun logo with the raised “A” takes on the form it basically retains till the present day.
Prof. Wilhelm Wagenfeld and Ulm Academy of Design in 1954 receive initial orders from the Braun brothers to redesign the radios and phonographs. Their “honest understated and functional design” is to set them apart from the rest of the market. The most prominent advocate of the new design is Dr Fritz Eichler. The Braun Health Service is inaugurated. Its mission is to provide Braun staffers with preventive medical care.
Attracting national and international attention, Braun shows its entire radio line, redesigned in only eight months, at the 1955 Dusseldorf Radio Exhibition. “Braun Design” is born.
In 1956 the Design Department commences work under Dr Fritz Eichler. Together with colleagues, Dieter Rams – initially hired as an architect – designs the Phonosuper SK4, nicknamed “Snow White’s Coffin”. Braun receives major international awards for its design achievements. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, expands its collection to include many Braun units as models of exemplary design.
In 1959 Braun presents new appliances featuring exceptionally innovative technology and design, among others the first true Hi Fi system consisting of individual components, the “studio 2”, making Braun the leading German manufacturer in this area.
The “sixtant” electric shaver is launched in 1962, breaking all sales records. It marks the starting point to make Braun a global player in electric shaving.
With the “mayadent” electric toothbrush, Braun in 1963 begins the Oral Care line, which is systematically expanded in the Seventies.
On 19 December 1967, The Gillette Company, Boston, acquires a majority holding in Braun, providing the company with financial and human resources to develop into a truly intentional enterprise.
The “Braun Prize for Technical Design”, initiated by Erwin Braun in 1967, is awarded to young designers for the first time in 1968, remaining a regular event until today.
In 1971 Braun introduces its first pocket cigarette lighter and acquires Kollisch AG in Nuremburg, maker of the “Consul” lighters. The clock line is initiated with the “phase 1” tabletop alarm; it maintains a major position, especially on the German market.
In 1977 Braun shows a radio-controlled clock as a highly acclaimed innovative study at the Domotechnica trade fair in Cologne.
By 1981 Braun has become a leading manufacturer of small electrical appliances. Sustained growth calls for concentration of resources. The highly specialized photo sector is taken over by Robert Bosch GmbH; additionally, the Hi Fi sector is separated from Braun AG and transformed into an independent company.
In 1983 Braun receives the “Corporate Design Award” conferred for the first time by the “Gute Industrieform” council of the Hanover industrial fair. This prize awarded for an “exemplary fully-integrated concept encompassing product design, information and presentation”. The Foreign Office in Bonn confirms the company’s design achievements as a German cultural contribution.
In 1988 the 100 millionth Braun shaver runs off production lines at the Walldurn plant. In 1990, Braun enters the field of cosmetic female hair removal with acquisition of the French company Silk-epil.
In 1991 Braun launched the world’s first electric toothbrush with a round cup-shaped brush head and innovative oscillating movement. This innovation has become the most successful electric toothbrush worldwide and one of the core product categories in the Gilette portfolio. In the following year, Braun starts to dramatically invest in sales and marketing organizations in Eastern Europe and the Far East. Sales surpass 2 billion DM for the first time. The company celebrates 40 years of successful Braun Design in 1995.
In 1996 Braun acquires the ThermoScan company of the USA – leading manufacturer of infrared thermometers. With this, Braun enters a new product category: Personal Diagnostic Appliances.
Bernhard Wild, head of the Technology and Business Managements sectors, is appointed Chairman of the Board in 1998. Blood pressure monitors are added to the new personal diagnostic appliances product group. Also in 1998, Braun AG is converted into a GmbH, and one year later all Gillette brands are consolidated in a joint Gillette sales organization.
Braun becomes the technological centre within The Gillette Company and assumes additionally RD responsibility for Oral-B manual oral care products. 1999 sees the successful launch of a completely redesigned electric toothbrush with unique 3D cleaning system. The Syncro System marks the start of a new age of dry shavers; it combines the ultimate in shaving performance with an innovative automatic cleaning center.
Activator, the new top-of-the-line shaver has been launched in 2003, it features a completely new foil geometry for Braun’s closest shaving performance ever. The Activator system provides an intelligent interaction between the shaver and the automatic cleaning unit for user-tailored cleaning and fully-automatic charging.
Braun not only receives awards, they also have our own biannual design competition -
the Braun Prize. In 2005 this world renowned industrial design competition was held for the 15th time.