Jakob Kern (1790–1867) began making drawing instruments in a small workshop
in Aarau, Switzerland in 1819. His involvement with more sophisticated
instruments began in 1824 when he received his first order for a theodolite.
Kern showed his wares at several international exhibitions, including New York
in 1853, London in 1862, Vienna in 1873 (diploma of honor), Philadelphia in
1876, and Paris in 1878 (gold medal). Kern & Cie. continued the tradition at
Paris in 1889. Kern & Co. Ltd. became a part of the Wild Leitz group in
Heinrich Wild became a consultant to Kern in 1935, and in 1938 Kern unveiled
a new line of double circle (DK) theodolites that Wild had designed. Heinrich
Wild the younger had become a Kern employee in 1935, and developed methods of
manufacturing these instruments.