Kern Aarau

Kern Factory Ziegelrain 18, Aarau (1920).
Figure 1: Kern Factory Ziegelrain 18, Aarau (1920).
The until 1992 under the name Kern & Co AG, Aarau, known company was founded in 1819 by Jakob Kern in Aarau.1 Kern learned in Aarau the profession of instrument maker, went to Munich - one of the former centres of optical research and construction of fine mechanical instruments - and opened his own workshop after his return in Aarau.
In the 19th Century, the company grew steadily, but the period after the First World War led to business troubles; economic crisis, poor utilization of the newly started optics fabrication and especially the competition from new surveying instruments produced by Heinrich Wild Heerbrugg. In 1857 Jakob Kern retires from the company.
In 1937, as a blessing in disguise, Heinrich Wild resigned in Heerbrugg and agreed to cooperate with Kern. With this Kern was able to secure its market presence.
After the Second World War they managed a technical and commercial breakthrough thanks to the lenses for the Bolex cine cameras of the Paillard company. It was considered whether or not the construction of surveying instruments had to be continued at all.

The Kern factory around 1967-1969.
Figure 2: The Kern factory around 1967-1969.
An in 1958 completed reorganization of Kern decreased the emerging dangerous dependence as a supplier for a single company, and strengthened the field of surveying, which was significantly enhanced by the inclusion of photogrammetry. With the reorganization the previously neglected operational division into four management areas (designated departments) was gradually further developed.
When in 1963 the sale of film lenses collapsed for Paillard, they were glad to be able to continue to support surveying instruments. The photogrammetry division too recorded a success with the PG2.
The management in the jubilee year 1969:
  • Dr. Helmut Schnewlin , Technical Director
  • Dr. Paul Vogel , Commercial Director
  • Peter Kern , Managing Director
  • Rudolf Wehrli, Director of Sales
In the 1970s Kern excelled with the electronic distance meters DM1000, DM2000 and the DM500 series, the then smallest electronic rangefinders. Later, with the Mekometer ME3000 and ME5000, Kern had the world's most accurate distance meter. Various field software developments supported the use of electronic devices. Photogrammetry had been expanded with the precision plotter PG3 (1968), the Digital Stereo Restitution Instrument DSR1, and the plotter GP1 (1980).
At the end of the 1970s the electronic theodolite E-series (E1, E2, E12, E2-ST) were added. Equipment that would play an important role for the emerging sector of industrial surveys. In 1988, the new version of the electronic theodolite, the E10, was ready. It however never came into production due to the sale of the company on 13 May 1988 to the Wild Leitz group.
In 1991 the production facilities of the company Kern & Co. AG were closed in Aarau.

Instrument(s) in the collection


[1]: This whole page was translated from the German Historic page on Kern & Co. AG.

Figure reference

figure 1: German Historic page on Kern & Co. AG.

Further reading

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