Werner von Siemens, inventor and entrepreneur, was the outstanding founder figure in the German electrical engineering industry (or "electrotechnical" industry as he called it).
Werner Siemens had originally planned to study at the Bauakademie (Academy of Civil Engineering) in Berlin but, as the family was large and in financial difficulty, he did not want to place this additional burden on his parents. Instead, he joined the Prussian army and, as part of his officer's training, was able to study at the School of Artillery and Engineering in Berlin from 1835 to 1838. During the time as a professional soldier that followed, his scientific and engineering interests remained unbroken and led to his first inventions.
After the death of his parents (1839 and 1840), Werner Siemens took over responsibility for his younger brothers and sisters. Selling patents brought the family some urgently needed money, but "speculating with inventions" appeared too unreliable to Werner Siemens in the long term. He turned to the field of physics.
Taking part in trials with Wheatstone's indicator telegraph led Werner Siemens to invent a completely new self-interrupting model. He entrusted the mechanic Johann Georg Halske (1814-1890) with the manufacture of this first indicator telegraph suitable for practical use, which Halske then improved.
The success of their indicator telegraph induced the two of them to set up their own company in Berlin in 1847: Telegraphen Bau-Anstalt von Siemens & Halske. In 1849, Werner Siemens resigned his commission in the army and concentrated his attention on the new company. As an entrepreneur, Werner Siemens operated in the field of electric telecommunications throughout the world. During this time, he continued to make inventions and to pursue scientific activities. In 1866, he discovered the dynamoelectric principle, without which it would be impossible to supply electric power at affordable prices. Power electrical engineering was born.
Since 1863, Werner Siemens made great efforts to have modern patent laws passed in Germany. Together with Postmaster General Heinrich Stephan, he established the Elektrotechnischer Verein (Electrotechnical Association) in 1879. Werner Siemens coined the term Elektrotechnik, the German word for electrical engineering. In 1887, the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt, founded at his suggestion, took up its work. In 1888, Werner Siemens was raised to the rank of nobility (with the addition of "von" to his name).