John Jacob Bausch was born in Wurttemberg, Germany, on 25th July, 1830. When he was eighteen he moved to Berne, Switzerland, where he found work in an optical shop. The following year he emigrated to the United States.
In 1853 Bausch opened a retail optical shop in Rochester. Bausch sold spectacles, thermometers, field glasses, magnifiers and opera glasses. His friend Henry Lomb invested his savings in Bausch's shop and in 1855 became his partner.
While walking in a New York street, Bausch found a piece of Vulcanite Rubber. He took it back to his workshop and discovered he could make eyeglass frames from the material. At that time frames were mainly made from gold or European horn.
In 1860 the Bausch & Lomb company built the first machine in America to produce spectacles. Lomb was in charge of sales and Bausch concentrated on manufacturing.
During the Civil War, the blockade caused the price of gold and European horn to rise dramatically. This resulted in a growing demand for the Bausch & Lomb spectacles made from Vulcanite.
In 1876 the company began manufacturing microscopes. Later that year the Bausch & Lomb Optical Company won a distinction at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. The company also produced photographic lenses (1883), spectacle lenses (1889), microtomes (1890), binoculars and telescopes (1893).
Brausch's company did very well during the First World War as it created a demand for binocular telescopes, searchlight mirrors, periscopes and torpedo tube sights. John Jacob Bausch died on 24th February, 1926.