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"We have rarely seen such a capacity for change and adaptation": A book to mark KUKA's 125th birthday.

KUKA is celebrating its anniversary this year. KUKA has cast the company's exciting and eventful history in an entertaining book. The two historians and experts on corporate history, Dr. Ingo Stader and Dr. Max Schlenker of H&C Stader are the authors. In an interview, they tell us why it is important to deal with one's own corporate identity - and why working on the KUKA history was something special, even after many years of experience.

Teresa Fischer
20 September 2023
Reading Time: 6 min.

Why is it important for a company to deal with its own history at all?


Looking back into history pays off in many ways that are highly relevant for a company today: It shows how a company has become what it is today, it creates identity, it is an important sign of appreciation for the company and the employees themselves, and it is simply a form of transparency and documentation. 


Dr. Ingo Stader

Various stakeholder groups are interested in the historical genesis of a company and especially in how it deals with the "dark" years. So, it's always important to know what was. And last but not least, looking back also provides answers to current questions: It is proof that a company is well equipped for current and future challenges.

Dr. Max Schlenker

The foundation with a small sawmill in the 19th century, long-forgotten products from the water cannon to the self-propelled howitzer, or anecdotes about the beginnings of robotics: countless facts and figures were collected for the KUKA anniversary book. How do you get all this information?


The basis is scientifically sound research. In the case of KUKA, this was to a large extent real basic research, since not much has been published up to now. We researched in the KUKA company archives, but also in countless public archives, such as the Bavarian Economic Archives in Munich, the state archives in Munich and Augsburg or the Augsburg City Archives. All in all, we went to around 10 German public archives and pored over several thousand pages of files. The big challenge is to filter out the relevant information in this jungle of information, weight it accordingly and develop an exciting story. And we have - hopefully - succeeded in doing that.

You have taken a very close look at 125 years of KUKA history: What did you find particularly exciting about the company?

We've covered a lot of company histories, but we've rarely experienced such a capacity for change and adaptation at a company like KUKA, both in terms of technology and company history: between the beginnings in Lechbruck with acetylene lighting to the robots of today, it's been a long and not always straight path - just as it has been from the founders Keller and Knappich to the latest developments at the top management of the company. What was equally impressive about KUKA: In the course of our research, we conducted eyewitness interviews with more than 20 long-time and former KUKA companions. And no matter what story brought each of them together with the company, their connection with KUKA is still strong today.

Curious? By the way, the anniversary book 125 Years of KUKA with numerous historical illustrations is available for purchase at this link.


Historic trucks stand in front of a KUKA factory hall: KUKA is 125 years old.

A company on the move

125 years of KUKA

About the author
Teresa Fischer
Spokesperson Business KUKA 
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