Reichenbach, Georg Friedrich von

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b. 24 August 1772 Durlach, Baden, Germany
d. 21 May 1826 Munich, Germany
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German engineer.
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While he was attending the Military School at Mannheim, Reichenbach drew attention to himself due to the mathematical instruments that he had designed. On the recommendation of Count Rumford in Munich, the Bavarian government financed a two-year stay in Britain so that Reichenbach could become acquainted with modern mechanical engineering. He returned to Mannheim in 1793, and during the Napoleonic Wars he was involved in the manufacture of arms. In Munich, where he was in the service of the Bavarian state from 1796, he started producing precision instruments in his own time. His basic invention was the design of a dividing machine for circles, produced at the end of the eighteenth century. The astronomic and geodetic instruments he produced excelled all the others for their precision. His telescopes in particular, being perfect in use and of solid construction, soon brought him an international reputation. They were manufactured at the MathematicMechanical Institute, which he had jointly founded with Joseph Utzschneider and Joseph Liebherr in 1804 and which became a renowned training establishment. The glasses and lenses were produced by Joseph Fraunhofer who joined the company in 1807.
In the same year he was put in charge of the technical reorganization of the salt-works at Reichenhall. After he had finished the brine-transport line from Reichenhall to Traunstein in 1810, he started on the one from Berchtesgaden to Reichenhall which was an extremely difficult task because of the mountainous area that had to be crossed. As water was the only source of energy available he decided to use water-column engines for pumping the brine in the pipes of both lines. Such devices had been in use for pumping purposes in different mining areas since the middle of the eighteenth century. Reichenbach knew about the one constructed by Joseph Karl Hell in Slovakia, which in principle had just been a simple piston-pump driven by water which did not work satisfactorily. Instead he constructed a really effective double-action water-column engine; this was a short time after Richard Trevithick had constructed a similar machine in England. For the second line he improved the system and built a single-action pump. All the parts of it were made of metal, which made them easy to produce, and the pumps proved to be extremely reliable, working for over 100 years.
At the official opening of the line in 1817 the Bavarian king rewarded him generously. He remained in the state's service, becoming head of the department for roads and waterways in 1820, and he contributed to the development of Bavarian industry as well as the public infrastructure in many ways as a result of his mechanical skill and his innovative engineering mind.
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Further Reading
Bauernfeind, "Georg von Reichenbach" Allgemeine deutsche Biographie 27:656–67 (a reliable nineteenth-century account).
W.Dyck, 1912, Georg v. Reichenbach, Munich.
K.Matschoss, 1941, Grosse Ingenieure, Munich and Berlin, 3rd edn. 121–32 (a concise description of his achievements in the development of optical instruments and engineering).
WK

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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