The new generation of software-defined photography is built on the foundation that has been laid by our legendary predecessors, Dr. Ernst Leitz II, Oskar Barnack and Dr. Andreas Kaufmann.
Since becoming a major shareholder in 2004, Dr. Andreas Kaufmann has played a key role in shaping Leica’s vision and recent success.
For Leica’s Chairman of the Supervisory Board, entrepreneurship is better expressed by the German word Unternehmungsgeist. “It means to go for it, to do something without stopping,” he says. “For me it’s also about responsibility: responsibility for the product, for the brand, for the customer and for the staff. As an entrepreneur, you cannot do anything by yourself.”
More than just an investor, Kaufmann places tremendous value on the legacy passed down by the Leitz family. Leica’s refined aesthetic, as well as the company’s rich humanistic past have served as inspiration for Kaufmann as he looks to the future of Leica.
Between 1913 and 1914, Oskar Barnack developed the ‘Liliput’ camera, as he called it at the time. It was the first fully-functional prototype of a revolutionary new still picture camera for 35 mm perforated cine film. It became a milestone in the history of photography under the name ‘Ur-Leica’. In 1925, following inevitable delays due to the First World War, the Leica finally set out to conquer the world of photography. The brand legend grew as this camera captured many famous and iconic images throughout the early-to-mid 20th century.
Dr. Ernst Leitz II transformed the Leitz Company (today known as “Leica”) with the groundbreaking ‘Leitz Camera,’ or Leica 35mm, in 1924.
Faced with uncertainty around the product’s commercial success, Dr. Leitz was also in danger of personal retribution by hiring individuals persecuted by the National Socialist regime. Despite these concerns, Dr. Leitz voiced the momentous words: “My decision is final. We will take the risk.”
Through this commitment, the Leitz Company would go on to decisively influence the photo-technical and photochemical industries for more than a century.