The Kathrein Success Story Begins
With his thirst for knowledge and technical interest, Engineer Anton Kathrein lays the cornerstone for the dynamic development of the company. As a young man on the go, he has first-hand experience of the chaos of the times before and during WWI, which were also very exciting times in terms of technology. Today, one would certainly refer to his pioneer spirit as a “start-up mentality”.
Fascinated by developments, Engineer Anton Kathrein leaves his job as an electrician in 1919 to set up business for himself in his own workshop. His first invention, the “pole circuit breaker with integrated fuse”, originates from his experience as a service engineer at Überlandwerken (an electric utility). In the first few years he develops a product range which prevents the considerable damage which results when lightning hits a supply network at transformers and equipment.
Radio becomes a mass medium
In the 1920s, Kathrein identifies the potential of a new medium. Since the beginning of the new century, the technical development of radio has rapidly been gaining impetus. In October 1923 “Deutsche Rundfunk” (German Radio) gets started with its first programme from Voxhaus in Berlin. There are only a few listeners at the birth hour of radio in Germany. But the number of listeners and the demand for reception antennas rise with the programme offering. Driven by curiosity and an unshakeable faith in his technical knowledge, Kathrein enters the new production sector. He initially offers lightning protection for elevated antennas, and shortly thereafter medium-wave wire antennas which are easy to mount. From the very outset he opts for top quality, which he institutes as a major characteristic of the company.
Top-notch reliability and quality – this is what Kathrein stands for. (Engineer Anton Kathrein)
In the years that follow Kathrein develops new generations of optimised radio antennas. In 1931, for example, the company presents the first rod radio antenna at the Leipzig fair – it is a sensation for those times. In 1938 Kathrein launches a telescopic automotive antenna on the market; the company already has about 100 people in its employ. During WWII production has to switch to accessories and parts for telecommunication technology systems for aircraft and ships. In the first few years after the war alternative manufacturing is the rule – in accordance with the materials available. It isn’t until the currency reform of 1948 that the general economic situation changes. This sets the course for Kathrein’s future too.