Josef Ludwig Franz Ressel, Austrian forestry official and developer of the ship’s propeller, was born on June 29, 1793.


A native of Bohemia, Josef Ressel studied cameral science, agriculture, general technology, chemistry, mechanics, hydraulics and civil architecture at the University of Vienna from 1812-1816.

In 1817 he entered government service as a forester, and in 1835 he joined the navy in Venice and Istria. He worked on technical inventions, including the pneumatic tube and the ship’s propeller.


On February 11, 1827, he applied for a patent in Austria for “the invention of a wheel resembling a screw without end, which 1) set in motion in water by some external motive force, is applicable for pulling ships on the sea, on lakes, and even on rivers, then 2) for ships and windmills, as a driving wheel.”

His attempt to found an Austrian Screw Steamship Company failed, after which he traveled to Paris in 1829, where he built another ship’s screw. However, the executing company seized his invention because he had not signed a contract for the use of the propeller. Thus, he was unable to profit from it and, disappointed, returned to his work as a forester and died in Ljubljana in 1857.

Only posthumously was he honored for his work.


In Vienna, the Ressel Park in front of the Karlskirche and the TU was named after him and a monument was created by Anton Dominik Fernkorn, which was unveiled on January 18, 1863.

He was also depicted on the Austrian 500 shilling note.


(K. M.)