Company History



The daring man with his photographic box: this is how the joke success story actually began. For the young man who made the idea of building excellent cameras from old cigar boxes a reality was destined to have a remarkable career. The man’s name was Robert Kettenbaum, he studied electronic engineering and in 1940, ventured into self-employment with a repair business. The Cologne electrical dealer Josef Joisten was part of things as cofounder and partner, and this was the foundation of joke for half a century.

The abbreviated company name well known to this day originates from the initial letters of the company’s founders’ names. Kettenbaum constantly kept on tinkering, he developed and built welding apparatus (including quality control in the yard by master Lange, see large picture), thereby laying the foundation for the worldwide joke renown in the area of welding technology.

Even development of the most modern welding apparatus of his day was not enough for the creative action man. Consequently, Kettenbaum additionally sold and marketed the revolutionary VIKA square drill, which performed “miracles” in the trade by drilling square and even hexagonal holes. He has unfortunately never revealed just how many bets he won in doing so.  

Finally, the commitment grew to serve tool manufacturing companies and above all mould building with innovative solutions and countless accessories. With great attention to detail, the company devoted itself to this sector and offered an ever wider and more perfect product range. It was the birthing hour for the renowned joke expertise in surfaces.



Loading joke welding apparatus to a truck meant All hands on deck during the initial years. State-of-the-art technology simply needed room. The 12 1/2 kvA resistance welding machine was the company’s pride and joy. joke’s innovative control unit put the company in a forefront position in spot welding matters right from the early days of the technology.

The basis for successful development over decades and maximum competence to this day. Today, we weld very fine points and seams on the material using joke multiSpot 3. The technology is more compact (and lighter), the results still always first-rate.


The year of the encounter with a Swede of a special kind. Not blond, but still the dream of many of the men in the workshop. It was to be the beginning of an extraordinary partnership lasting to this day. Robert Kettenbaum took over with joke representation of DIPROFIL hand-filing machines.

He had been personally delighted with the technology of the “indestructible Swedish Volvo”. He was to be proved right: the machines have been an integral part of the joke range to this day and form part of the basic equipment of every polishing workplace. During the course of the “economic miracle period” in Germany in the 50’s, an increasingly sophisticated range of products for surface finishing developed around the duo of the JOKEFLEX hanging motor and the DIPROFIL hand-filing machine. Kettenbaum, an engineer through and through, recognised at an early stage that more is needed than just a mere trade business.

With know-how and passion, he constantly devoted himself to optimising workflow processes, drafted countless specialised reports and was always on the road presenting his latest knowledge and products.



Almost as a sideline, Robert Kettenbaum also devoted his attention to processing of sealable plastic films, constantly developing new sealing machines in this field and founding the segment “film-sealing technology” of the joke group, which is still successful to date as joke mechanix GmbH.

Time and again, new innovative ideas came up and at the beginning of the sixties, Robert Kettenbaum once again achieved a substantial technological leap with entirely new methods for disposable gloves for the cosmetic sector.

From humble beginnings in rented, primitive Nissen huts in the centre of Bergisch Gladbach, a well-known, medium-sized firm had finally established itself at the current site in Herkenrath in the Bergische Land.




joke‘s major asset right from the start was the immense creativity and vitality of the company, with the talent and enthusiasm of the company’s founder radiating to the workforce. Outstandingly gifted and loyal employees formed the heart of the company in all development phases to this day,– ready for action, whatever it takes!

Typical of the continuity at joke is the decades-long company membership of many employees. Where else could it happen that for instance a secretary could only be persuaded at the age of 78 to take a long earned retirement...? Specialists loyal to the company are an integral part of technical continuity and form a healthy basis for growth and internal stability.



Live Show

Innovation needs a platform. That’s why from the beginning joke took part in the most important exhibitions. As seen here at the exhibition in Hannover in the early 60’s, "live-presentations" of new products were always of high priority.

In the first years Robert Kettenbaum himself travelled across Europe, presenting his "suitcase of ideas" to a big audience all over the world while at the same time gathering new impulses for innovations.