iSi Company History

iSi Company Timeline

Today a world leader in the culinary whipper and soda siphon industry, iSi has a long and storied history spanning a century and a half and two World Wars. What began as a manufacturer of medical supplies now produces everything from airbags to whipped cream chargers.

Beginnings

What we know today as iSi has its roots in Vienna, Austria, with a company founded by Carl Pochtler, born in 1840. The company, registered in 1867 as Chirurgische Spritzen-Sodawasser-Apparate und Syphon–Fabrik (Surgical Syringes and Soda Water Machines and Siphon Factory), got its start fabricating surgical syringes and other medical implements from steel.[1]

Carl Pochtler's factory built a reputation for producing quality wares and earned several industry awards at world expositions and trade fairs. Adapting their proficiency at metal fabrication to serve a growing middle class, they soon began producing soda siphons.

The company applied for its first patent in 1878. As his business grew, Carl Pochtler relocated in 1881 to a new building at Kaiserstrasse 87 in Vienna.

The Next Generation

When Carl Pochtler died in 1887, his daughter, Rosa Fischer-Pochtler took the reins. The company continued to build on its success and Rosa's husband, Carl Fischer, began managing the company in 1906. Their son, Alfred, becomes managing director in 1916. By this time the company employed more than 80 people.

In 1922, to reflect their growing product offerings, the company changed its name to Sodawassermaschinen-, Siphons- & Metallwarenfabrik (Soda Water, Siphons, And Metalware Factory). It was also during this time that the company began their international expansion, establishing branches throughout Eastern Europe in Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia.

In 1940, World War II forced the company to close down temporarily. In 1951 they reopened with a new focus on producing siphons and CO2 chargers for residential customers. Alfred died in 1954, and his daughter Marietta Fischer-Pochtler and her husband Hannes took over.

Foundation of the Modern Company

While the Pochtler family was busy building an international reputation for themselves, another company that plays an integral part of this story was gaining worldwide renown. Soda siphons were all the rage among the Western social elite of the early 20th century. Partygoers in the world's cultural centers delighted in mixing their own handcrafted sodas. One of the largest companies producing the siphons at the time was Sparklets, synonymous with soda siphon in the English-speaking market, but absent from the German world.

In 1920, Berliner Karl Hinz gained the rights to manufacture and distribute the Sparklet design in Berlin. He named his company Heimsyphon, whose products immediately became popular among the high society club goers and wealthier residents of Berlin.

While Hinz was building his soda siphon empire in Germany, Sparklets Ltd was bought by British Oxygen Company, and lent its resources to the allied fight in World War II by manufacturing supplies for the Royal and allied air forces including everything from life jacket inflators to propellant for insecticides.[2]

The Second World War destroyed the Heimsyphon factory. Not one to be discouraged, Hinz moved the company to Solingen, his wife’s hometown, and reestablished the company. Heimsyphon quickly bounced back to its former success.[3]

A Merger and the Birth of Siphon Giant

Looking for ways to expand in the soda siphon market, the Pochtler-Fischer family acquired Heimsyphon in 1964 and renamed the new company iSi Metallwarenfabrik Ges.m.b.H. In 1966, the company introduced its first disposable chargers in Austria. This is the same year that the company began exporting its products throughout Europe and overseas.

In 1975, the company moved production and administration to its current location at Kurschnergasse 4 in Vienna. In 1978, Christian C. Pochtler, the fifth generation descendant of Carl Pochtler founded the company's North American branch.

Construction of the world’s largest high-tech filling center for the company's culinary chargers began in 1994. A facility in Kürschnergasse expanded the company's components division, which manufactures and fills gas cartridges for a number of applications, from surgical equipment to fire repressing equipment, setting up the three-tier format that the company operates under today.

The Company Enters the Airbag Business

The company's second tier caters to the automotive industry in making airbag technology, developing not just inflation mechanisms, but new types of airbags altogether. The company's own Cool Inflator® technology is a safer way to inflate airbags, posing no burn risk like older technologies. The company bought Delphi’s European airbag branch in 2009, and now they make airbags for Audi, Daimler-Benz, and Seat. With the merger, they acquired a cutting-edge engineering facility in Berlin to develop their technologies begin producing side, cranium, and knee impact airbags.

Inspired by Cuisine for Cuisine

The company's modern products are inspired by the cuisine they’re used to create, particularly French cuisine, with its focus on flavor first, and philosophies that value visual presentation. Modern developments in French cooking, like Nouvelle cuisine and the New School of Cookery put an emphasis on lighter fare and embrace new technologies, making the whippers a go-to piece in the tool kits of chefs practicing these styles.

The molecular gastronomy movement has played a role in the company's success, also. Ferran Adriá, a pioneer of molecular gastronomy, coined the term 'espuma' to describe his unique culinary foam made from whipping flavored liquid with additives like lecithin to produce deconstructed versions of classic dishes, taking familiar flavors and making them new again. As the executive chef at internationally renowned elBulli restaurant in Spain, Adriá used the whippers to perfect the use of culinary foam espuma and put the technique in the international spotlight.

Today, the company's products are used by professional and home chefs alike to create simple whipped creams, innovative espumas, hand-crafted sodas, and everything in between. Constantly evolving, the siphons are among the most durable and dependable on the market. They're still manufactured in Vienna, in accord with strict quality guidelines under the leadership of CEO Christian C. Pochtler in the fifth generation of family ownership.

[1]History iSi Culinary For Professionals Retrieved 21 February 2015.

[2]History Heimsyphon Retrieved 21 February 2015

[3]BOC Group plc History. Funding Universe. Retrieved 21 February 2015.