Johann Lorenz Böckmann

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Johann Lorenz Böckmann[1] (8 May 1741 – 15 December 1802) was a German physicist and mathematician.


Johann Lorenz Böckmann was the fifth and youngest child of a Lübeck bookseller. He studied theology, mathematics and physics in Jena from 1760 to 1764. At the age of 23, he went to the Karlsruhe Gymnasium as a professor. He made a career at the margravial court and became consistorial assessor in 1769, church councilor in 1774, court councilor in 1776, ephorus of the Gymnasium in 1789, and privy court councilor in 1798. For the Margrave of Baden he established a physical cabinet and founded a meteorological institute in 1778.

Böckmann was a member of several scientific societies, including the London Royal Society, the Electoral Mainz Academy of Sciences, and the Electoral Bavarian Academy of Sciences. In Baden, he introduced the Realschule system and teacher seminars. He published the journal Archiv für Magnetismus und Somnambulismus ("Archive for Magnetism and Somnambulism") in eight volumes starting in 1787, in which he documented medical histories from Baden, Württemberg, Bremen and abroad and treatment successes using magnetic healing currents.

Böckmann was one of the first scientists in Germany to experiment with optical telegraphy, making him one of the founders of communications technology. In 1794, Böckmann used an optical telegraph to send congratulations to the then Margrave of Baden on his birthday. In a letter to the Regensburg Council of Princes, he developed the image of a great, all-encompassing chain of communications "that will unite Petersburg with Kherson and all the other countries in more than one part of the world, in the next."

Böckmann was a friend of the poet Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock. In 1766, he married the eldest daughter of Dr. Eichrodt. She died in 1790 and they had 13 children. The physicist and chemist Karl Wilhelm Böckmann (1773-1821), successor of his father as professor at the Gymnasium in Karlsruhe and supervisor of the physical cabinet, was his eldest son. His younger son Friedrich (born 1776) was a country doctor.


  • Erste Gründe der Mechanik (1769)
  • Abhandlung von den Kegelschnitten (1771)
  • Naturlehre (1775)
  • Wünsche und Aussichten zur Erweiterung der Witterungslehre (1778)
  • Wünsche zur Vervollkommnung der Witterungslehre (1779)
  • Beiträge zur neuesten Geschichte der Witterungslehre (1781)
  • Beiträge zur Geschichte der Mathematik und der Naturlehre in den Badischen Ländern (1787)
  • Ueber die Anwendung der Electricität bei Kranken (1787)
  • Kleine Schriften physischen Inhalts (1789)
  • Ueber Blitzableiter (1783–91)
  • Ueber Telegraphie (1794)


  1. Sometimes Boeckmann.


  • Beyrer, Klaus (1995). "Johann Lorenz Böckmann. Ein Pionier der optischen Telegrafie in Deutschland". In: Klaus Beyrer, Birgit-Susann Mathis (eds.), So weit das Auge reicht. Die Geschichte der optischen Telegrafie. Karlsruhe: Braun Verlag, pp. 67–77.
  • Karmarsch, Karl (1875). "Böckmann, Johann Lorenz". In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). 2. Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, p. 788.
  • Vogel, Kurt (1955). "Boeckmann, Johann Lorenz". In: Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB). 2. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, p. 374.
  • Wucherer, Wilhelm Friedrich (1803). "Dem Angedenken Des Verewigten Herrn GeheimeHofrath Böckmanns gewidmet". In: Magazin von und für Baden (Carlsruhe), pp. 1–36.

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