Prof Dr Fritz Sennheiser
Prof Dr Fritz Sennheiser founded the audio company bearing his name in 1945

The death has been announced of Prof Dr Fritz Sennheiser, who in 1945 founded the audio company bearing his name. Prof Dr Sennheiser passed away on the evening of May 17, just a few days after his 98th birthday.

When he left school, Sennheiser hoped to become a landscape gardener, but the depression in Germany forced him to decide in favour of what he called his 'second love'.

'As an eleven-year-old boy, I witnessed the introduction of the radio. I built my own receiver out of the simplest of components: a slide coil, a tungsten tip, a crystal and a 20-metre-long radio frequency antenna,'  he recalled, and as result of this he studied electrical engineering, specialising in telecommunications, at the Technical University in Berlin.

At the Heinrich Hertz Institute he and his fellow students helped develop a reverberation unit that was used at the opening ceremony of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, using a modified grand piano: used  with an electric organ at the Olympic Stadium, it made the music sound as if it was being played in a huge church.

He worked in cryptography during the Second World War, and founded his company in Wennebostel in 1945, with seven fellow wartime workers, as Labor W. They started out making valve voltmeters, moving on to microphones and later headphones.

More after the break

It made its first wireless microphone system in 1957, and later developed the famous  and innovative open-backed headphones: the latest version of its original HD414 is still a best-seller.

In 1982, aged 70, Fritz handed over control of the company, which now employs 2100 people, to his son, Prof. Dr. sc. techn. Jörg Sennheiser. He later joked that 'it took me two and a half years to get used to not being able to make the decisions any longer…'