Count Zeppelin first developed an interest in technology and inventions at the age of 52. After completing a military career, he rapidly became a visionary in his time.
In addition to a wealth of innovative technical ideas, he had the gift of being able to persuade people to support what were then adventurous projects – even after encountering setbacks.
"Prominent personalities of the time, including Claude Dornier, Karl Maybach, Alfred Colsman, Hugo Eckener and Alfred Graf von Soden-Fraunhofen, came to Friedrichshafen to work with Zeppelin. The city of Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance became an important focus of technology. On 2 July 1900, the initial test flight of first airship, the LZ 1, was launched near Manzell on Lake Constance, not far from Friedrichshafen. Zeppelin and his employees refined the technology and two more airships were later developed and scrapped. The Count suffered a major blow in 1908. Following an emergency landing in Echterdingen near Stuttgart, airship LZ 4 was destroyed in a fire.
But now the public's interest has been enormous. After the accident, money was collected all over Germany to enable Zeppelin to continue working on its "giants of the air". The count used the surprising result of these collections - almost 6 million marks came together - to "flank" his plans economically. Because Zeppelin and its engineers were aware that their airship needed technological components for which there were practically no suppliers at the time: powerful but lightweight large engines, light gas, advanced material technology, optimal gearboxes - a technology that was modern at the time, but also for others later developments should play a decisive role. Zeppelin initiated a number of company foundations.
In 1908 he founded the "Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH" after he had set up the Zeppelin Foundation to manage the funds collected - the nucleus of the group. In the following seven years, other companies were added. The successor companies still existing in Friedrichshafen today and many other company foundations date from this time. In 1915 the "Zahnradfabrik" was launched. Their gears and transmissions, precision-made according to a patent new at the time, promised optimal power transmission between the engines and propellers of the Zeppelin airships. Today ZF Friedrichshafen AG is the largest company that emerged from Zeppelin's legacy. Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin died on March 8, 1917 after an operation at the age of 79 in Berlin as a globally recognized personality.