Prof. Dr. Fritz Sennheiser Dies at 98

Our industry lost a true pioneer today with the death of  Professor Dr. Fritz Sennheiser. He helmed a company that created and sustained a range of products over many years,  some of which were war-torn and frought with ruin.

Born in 1912 in Berlin, Fritz Sennheiser always had a fritzsennheiser-013.jpgstrong interest in technology.  In light of the 1929 Wall Street crash on ‘Black Friday, he chose to pursue an electrical engineering/telecommunications education at Berlin’s Technical University.  While at the university, he worked for the Heinrich Hertz Institute for Vibration Research, a Mecca for telecommunications engineers at the time. Directly after his exams, Sennheiser became senior engineer at the institute for radio frequency engineering and electroacoustics at the University of Hanover. Allied bombing, however, destroyed most of the Institute’s research labs.

Sennheiser located a former youth hostel in the small village of Wennebostel, just north of Hanover, and re-founded the Institute. At war’s end on May 8, only seven of the 50 employees of the Institute remained, and a British communications unit took over. When the British occupation unit left a few weeks later, Sennheiser moved back into the abandoned farm house and founded his Lab W (Laboratorium Wennebostel) with just 7 employees. Ten years later, Labor W had 250 employees and produced a range of products including subminiature transformers, high- precision measuring devices, high-quality miniature microphones, mixing amplifiers and more.

In 1958, Labor W was renamed Sennheiser Electronic and by 1960 the workforce rapidly increased to 600. Sennheiser invested huge amounts of money not only in development but also in the very latest manufacturing technology, pioneering in the field RF technology, electron tubes and electroacoustics.

Just twenty years after its formation, Sennheiser had become the largest company in Germany specializing in the manufacture of microphones. On May 9, 1982, Prof. Dr. Fritz Sennheiser celebrated his 70th birthday and handed over the management of the company to his son, Jörg Sennheiser who was instrumental in saving fellow German microphone manufacturer, Georg Neumann GmbH from failure by purchasing it in 1991.

The Neumann company went on to win the 1999 technical Grammy while Sennheiser Corporation was awarded a technical EMMY for its work in wireless technology and a technical Oscar by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1986 for their MKH 816 shotgun microphone. Up until his death, Dr. Fritz still came in to work to tinker on various projects.

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