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Fritz Sennheiser Dies

Microphone and business pioneer, last of a line

Dr. Fritz Sennheiser passed away on May 17. He was 98.

Sennheiser was considered the last survivor of post-World War II German audio pioneers that started with leftover scraps and built international companies of renown.

Yet, had the market for shrubbers been better in Germany in the 1930s, the world likely would not have heard of Fritz Sennheiser.

Stifled in doing what he really wanted to do, landscape gardening, Sennheiser went to technical school and studied electrical engineering. His natural talents were recognized and Sennheiser seemed destined for a career of academia and technical research.

World War II’s intervention put Sennheiser working on cryptology. The end of the war left Sennheiser and a handful of coworkers in the remains of the Institute for Radio Frequency Technology and Electroacoustics in the town of Wennebostel with nothing to do except try to survive. Using spare parts, Sennheiser and his group, called Laboratorium W, built voltmeters for Siemens.

Siemens, unable to use its own factories and liking the quality of the “Lab W” work, began ordering more equipment. Quickly a call came from Siemens for a dynamic microphone and the rest was history.

The company made a quick reputation for making quality microphones and began researching the field, leading to the first of the MD line. The fabled MD 421 was introduced in 1960. Research into wireless technology and headphones led to pioneering efforts in those fields. In 1958 the company adopted the Sennheiser Electronics name.

Sennheiser always kept a foot in academia, lecturing and teaching when he could.

In 1982, then 70, Fritz Sennheiser retired from day-to-day management of the company.

Read the full company biography.