Technology for Life since 1889: our company history
Every life is unique. Protecting, supporting and saving lives is at the heart of our Dräger history. Johann Heinrich Dräger wrote the first chapter of this history in 1889. We will continue to be guided by the idea of turning technology into “technology for life”.
Johann Heinrich Dräger is dissatisfied with the existing beer tap systems: The flow of beer is uneven and equipment is often out of order. Johann Heinrich Dräger, trained as a watchmaker, takes up the challenge to his inventive creativity. Puzzling over the technology, he finally develops the first reliable reducing valve for carbonic acid in 1889 – the Lubeca valve. He decides not to sell his invention, but to produce the valve himself.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the use of anaesthetic agents implies significant risks. Frequently, patients died because of imprecise proportioning of gases. Johann Heinrich Dräger and Professor Dr. Otto Roth put all their expertise to the development of a new anaesthesia device, aiming at finally controlling anaesthesia. The “Roth-Dräger” is a groundbreaking innovation, positioning our company as an expert in the field of anaesthesia.
1906: The Courrières mining disaster, which claimed over 1,000 lives, makes a deep impression on Bernhard Dräger. He travels to France to experience at first hand the working conditions underground. His aim is to make breathing apparatus safer and improve their performance in practice. The new devices will soon prove to be highly effective in mining disasters in Europe and the U.S. It’s no surprise that rescue workers are still called “Draegermen” in the North American mining industry.
Whilst travelling in England, Johann Heinrich Dräger heard from miners in Newcastle about the urgent need for a device to resuscitate men who were pulled unconscious from the mines. Shortly after that in London, we witnessed a drowning young man being rescued from the Thames and resuscitated. A visionary idea occurred to him: People who have lost consciousness because of oxygen deprivation must be ventilated immediately using a machine that can save their lives. When he returned home to Lübeck, Johann Heinrich Dräger began to develop the Pulmotor, the world's first mass-produced emergency ventilator.
The inventive spirit of our founder, who who developed the Lubeca valve in 1889 and made it possible to control anaesthetics. Our employees, who work every day to turn technology into Technology for Life. The mine rescue workers in Canada and North America who have proudly called themselves Draegermen for over 100 years. Our customers, whom we care for all over the world.
Our origins—Johann Heinrich Dräger’s inventive spirit led him to tinker and refine until, in 1889, he held the first reducing valve for carbon dioxide in his hands. His son Bernhard ultimately discovered an application for this piece of technology in medicine and rescue scenarios. The principle of pressure minimisation made it possible to control anaesthetics, for example, marking a milestone in the history of anaesthesia.
They rushed to Superman's aid in one of his first comics and they often ventured more than 1,000 meters underground during their assignments. We’re talking about the Drägermen, as mine rescuers were proudly known in the United States and Canada. The word has even made its way into the dictionary. We have to go back 100 years to find the reason: that is when Dräger invented the first reliable closed-circuit breathing apparatus for mine rescue teams. To this day, the company is still ensuring that miners can breathe easy below ground.
Our customers—no journey is too far Bernhard Dräger already realised how important it is to be where the customer is back in 1904. Together with his family, he made his way from Lübeck to the United States to present his products at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Just three years later, he founded the company’s first subsidiary abroad in New York, marking the start of a global expansion. Today, we have a presence in over 190 countries and in around 50 countries, we even have our own sales and service companies on the ground for our customers.