In the end it was quite simple: The rigid floor had to be replaced only by a telescopic pole. The tension struts got joints that gained stability through leverage. To this day, this is the basic principle of a screen that was invented almost 90 years ago in Berlin, and celebrated under the name Knirps world success.
The Berlin-based Hans Haupt, Bergessor retired, was the man with the idea, and like so many before him, he too was driven by personal suffering. Haupt, handicapped by a war injury and therefore reliant on a walking stick, was annoyed in rainy weather about having to go out with his walking stick and also with a usual umbrella out of the house.
So Haupt constructed a collapsible umbrella model – a telescopic pocket umbrella he patented on April 26, 1930 at the Reich Patent Office in Berlin under the name “Knirps”.
Production in Solingen
The start, however, was tough and tedious. Not only that, four and a half years passed until the patent was granted in November 1934. In Berlin nobody was interested in the main invention. In the umbrella industry, it was rejected almost exclusively as “non-marketable”. Fritz Bremshey, however, entrepreneur from Solingen, recognized the great potential in the small tots. In 1932, he launched the first ready-made ladies’ totes and launched serial production.
In the same year, Haupt and Bremshey set up the Knirps consortium to market their pocket umbrella. They supplied umbrella manufacturers with collapsible racks, each of which had its own fabric. 12.50 Reichsmark cost the middle of the 1930s, a ladies-tot. A model for men came in 1938 on the market.
The company prospered until it slipped in 1982 under pressure from the Far East.
A good 20 years later, the trademark rights went to an Austrian-Swiss company, which continues to develop the tot and still produce it under license worldwide.
Roots of fax machine and scanner are in Berlin
With the experience that a Berlin invention was ignored at home, Haupt was not alone. The most well-known example is the computer that Konrad Zuse developed in his workshop in Kreuzberg’s Methfesselstrae in 1941, which later helped IBM become world famous. The first tape recorder was brought to series production in the Berlin AEG test laboratory.
But the roots of fax machine and scanner are also in Berlin. Technician Rudolf Hell, who ran his own company in Dahlem in the 1930s, had patents on both. Even the hybrid drive was first shown in 1989 by Audi and Bosch at the Berlin Motor Show AAA. It stayed that way though.