German China

Liquid Handling

A thousandth of a liter travels around the world

| Author / Editor: Dr. Ilka Ottleben* / Dr. Ilka Ottleben

Fig. 1: The “Eppendorf Microliter System”: In the 1960s, the holistic approach sets a new standard in the laboratory world.
Fig. 1: The “Eppendorf Microliter System”: In the 1960s, the holistic approach sets a new standard in the laboratory world. (Source: Eppendorf AG)

As recently as 60 years ago, it was almost impossible to pipette small amounts of liquid in the microliter range safely and reproducibly. Many breakthroughs, particularly in the fields of molecular and chemical research, would not have been conceivable in the milliliter range.

This is certainly one of the many facts of everyday post-war life that later generations cannot seem to imagine: riding a bike to an important business meeting. In June 1945, a few weeks after the end of World War II, Lübeck-Travemünde became the starting point of such a bicycle journey, which was to lay the foundation for the globally successful company Eppendorf AG. Dr. Hans Hinz and Dr. Heinrich Netheler, both in their mid-thirties at the time, were most definitely not aware of the significance of their journey as they cycled the almost 90 km to Hamburg to meet with the Heads of the Theoretical Institute at the University Clinic Eppendorf.

The reason these two engineers set out on their journey was quite obvious: the necessity to find a new field of employment for themselves and their team which had been employed in the field of radar technology at the former Office for High Frequency Technology. Their aim was to find a field of work where they would be able to apply their knowledge in a meaningful way while continuing to use their instruments. With the prevailing situation of the time, the health sector seemed to be the most appropriate field in which to aid in reconstruction, and – the guiding principle of the company to this day – to improve the living conditions of mankind.

* Dr. I. Ottleben: Redaktion LABORPRAXIS, E-Mail ilka.ottleben@vogel.de

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