The idea of manufacturing spectacle lenses that would offer people with presbyopia continuous vision from distance to near vision has been developed since the beginning of the 20th century. The first attempts to create progressive lenses were made in 1909. They were unsuccessful, however and the lenses were never marketed, since they had too many imperfections. It was not until 1956 that Bernhard Maitenaz from the Société des Lunetiers achieved a breakthrough and his progressive lens was patented. The foundation stone for the progressive lenses of today was laid. Carl Zeiss has been selling this type of progressive lens by the name of "Gradal" since 1970.
At the end of the 1970s, a young mathematician who had just graduated from university joined Carl Zeiss. On his own initiative, he did not only develop new progressive lens designs in line with new standards by performing time-consuming mathematical lens and area calculations using the basic technique, but he also designed the computer programs required for this. It is worth mentioning that this happened in the days of punch cards and mainframe computers with very limited computer capacities.
Our young employee had only one goal – offering future wearers of spectacles a progressive lens that would help them see better and more naturally, a lens that they could wear comfortably and tolerably. None of these things could be taken for granted back then.
Gerhard Fürter, the mathematician, achieved a milestone in the development of progressive lenses together with the head of the mathematics department, Hans Lahres. This was confirmed in 1981, when Carl Zeiss was granted patent EP0039497 and a vital step towards individual progressive lenses had been taken.
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