Company History



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

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

However, even development of the most modern welding apparatus was not enough for the creative action man. Consequently, Kettenbaum additionally sold and marketed the revolutionary VIKA square drill, which performed the “miracle” in the trade of 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 hour of birth of the joke competence in surfaces.



It was all hands on deck if one wishes to load a joke welding apparatus during the initial years. State-of-the-art technology simply needed space. The 12 1/2 kvA resistance welding machine was the company’s pride and joy. Owing to an innovative control unit, joke occupied a forefront position at an early stage in spot welding matters.

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 wonder 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 like a sideline, Robert Kettenbaum now also devoted his attention to processing of sealable plastic films, developed constantly new sealing machines in this case and founded the segment “film-sealing technology” of the joke group, which is still successful to date.

Over and over again, there were innovations 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 the 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.




The major plus of joke right from the start was the available creativity and vitality of the company, which drew their origins from the talent and taste for enthusiasm of the company’s founder and radiated to the workforce. One therefore had outstanding and loyal employees in all development phases of the company to this day, which ultimately embody the heart of an enterprise – and who were and are ready to sacrifice everything for it.

Typical of the continuity at joke is the decades-long membership of the company of many employees. Where else could it happen that for instance a secretary could only be encouraged 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 health basis for growth and internal stability.



Live Show

Innovations need 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 value.

In the first years Robert Kettenbaum himself travelled trough Europe, to present his "suitcase of ideas" to a big audience all over the world. Meanwhile, he filled his suitcase with new ideas for innovations.