Reinhold Burger (1866–1954)

Reinhold Burger was born in the glassmaking community at Baruth, south of Berlin, and through his work in glass technology did much to transform many aspects of 20th century life.

At the age of 15 he went to work for Siemens & Halske in Berlin, and from 1890 gained experience in the United States, before returning to Berlin to form R Burger AG in 1894, which manufactured thermometers, laboratory vessels and medical equipment. In 1901, in collaboration with Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen (1845-1923), he took out a patent for an X-ray tube, and in 1904 patented the Thermos vacuum flask, which was a development of the work of Sir James Dewar (1842-1923). His work on the vacuum flask was originally undertaken to provide vessels that could safely contain liquefied oxygen for the experiments in refrigeration being undertaken by Carl von Linde (1842-1934). Burger subsequently sold his patents to Charlottenberg Thermos AG, who began series production of vacuum flasks for the mass market in 1920.

Burger’s achievements are commemorated in displays in the glassworks museum at Baruth.