In 1849 Carl Kellner (1826-1855) founded the "Optical Institute" (Optiches Institut) in Wetzlar, Germany, which began
manufacturing microscopes. In 1869 Ernst Leitz (1843-1920) assumed the direction of the Opisches Institute and the company
was renamed Ernst Leitz Optische Werke, continuing to manufacturing the microscopes. Leitz started manufacturing also
binoculars in 1907. Leica started manufacturing Leica cameras by Oskar Barnack in 1913.
In 1914, Ernst Leitz founded a company called Leica Camera AG in Germany. The name Leica comes from the first three letters of
the founder, "Leitz = Lei" and first two letters of the word “Camera = Ca”, namely Lei + CA = Leica.
In 1920 Ernst Leitz’s son Ernst Leitz II, assumes the company direction and becomes a joint-stock company, under the name Ernst
Leitz GmbH. After the Second World War, Leitz GmbH continued to manufacture the cameras. In 1952, Leica opened a factory in Canada
1952 and in 1973 in Portugal.
In October 1954, Leica announced its first riflescope model, which were the most advanced riflescopes in that period. Leica has been
operating in Wetzlar until 1986, when it moved to Solms. At the same time, Ernst Leitz GmbH changed its name and became Leica GmbH.
Leica Camera AG, which bears the name Leica, remained as an independent company. In 1998 the Leica Group companies Leica Camera,
Leica Microsystems and Leica Geosystems are three independent companies.
During its long history, Leica has manufactured and manufactures still very high-quality cameras, riflescopes, laser rangefinders,
microscopes and other optical devices. Today Leica Camera AG employs approximately 1 600 employees and its headquarter is in Wetzlar.