120 years ago, on 3.11.1900, Adi Dassler came into the world. Little did he know that he would eventually build one of the most remarkable “start-ups” of the past century. The adidas founder has left behind an impressive and enduring legacy.

It’s a Saturday, it’s fresh outside, the sun is shining. It’s a quiet third of November in the year 1900, the day Adolf Dassler is brought into this world. He grows up near Nuremberg, in the sleepy town of Herzogenaurach, which he will later turn into a expanding centre of sport.

His mother runs a small laundry business in the basement, his father works in a factory, keeps bees, and looks after Herzogenaurach’s chronicles. Adi Dassler grows up on a street called Hirtengasse, and after finishing school, he takes up an apprenticeship as a baker.

After the First World War, Adi transforms his mother’s laundry room into a shoemaker’s workshop. An article appearing in the German local daily “Nordbayerische Zeitung” on 3 November 2000 describes what ensued:

“adidas is the story of a global corporation, encapsulating the achievements of one man, a dyed-in-the-wool resident of Herzogenaurach; it is the life’s work of Adolf (Adi) Dassler, who would have turned 100 on 3 November. What has become a well-known brand all over the world, had its modest beginnings in the quiet town of Herzogenaurach during the Weimar Republic of the 1920s.”

– Nordbayerischen Zeitung

The company’s first sports shoes are made from linen. In 1928, Adi Dassler’s models are already being worn by athletes at the Olympic Games in Amsterdam. At the Berlin Games in 1936, a delighted Jesse Owens – the celebrated track and field star – likewise slips into a pair of track shoes from Herzogenaurach.

After the Second World War, Adi Dassler starts up again with 47 members of staff. The name adidas is coined in 1948, using the first syllable of his first and last names. A year later, Adi registers the three stripes as the company’s trademark.

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“The nation’s shoemaker”. Adi Dassler is the kit manager of the DFB national football team. A major success story in post-war Germany

The 1950s – a decade of breath-taking achievements

1950 The first “Samba” model, an all-round football boot, is launched.

1952 At the Olympic Games in Helsinki, adidas is the most widely worn German sports shoe brand. Running shoes with exchangeable spikes are used for the first time. Wearing adidas track shoes, Emil Zatopek wins three gold medals in a week. The first adidas sports bags appear on the market.

1954 Germany’s national Soccer team becomes World Champion for the first time. Adi Dassler is in Bern and, at half time, he adjusts the exchangeable studs to suit the challenging pitch conditions. The football boot worn in Bern is later dubbed “World Cup”.

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The “heroes” of Bern. Germany’s footballers win the World Cup in Switzerland in 1954 (left: Adi Dassler and Germany’s manager Sepp Herberger)

1957 The first nylon half-sole for track shoes is developed.

1960 At the Olympic Games in Rome, 75 per cent of all track and field athletes place their trust in adidas footwear. The “Rom” all-round shoe is launched to coincide with the Olympic Games. Back in production, this classic model remains an absolute on-trend shoe to this day.

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Adidas goes global. The Franconian corporation conquers the world

The company from Franconia conquers the global market. In the decades that follow, it continues to compete at the top, chasing medals, records, and landmark victories. The big stars of the sporting world stream in and out of Käthe and Adi Dassler’s office and home. They trust the “nation’s shoemaker” and his lifelong passion for sport.

Franz Beckenbauer. Rosi Mittermaier. Gerd Müller. Muhammad Ali. Reinhold Messner. Celebrities from the world of show business… They all swear by the sports shoes with the three stripes.

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Two people who know how it feels: Käthe and Adi always work as a team

Adi Dassler dies at the age of 78. He leaves behind an empire – and a simple enough “legacy”:

Never follow! Lead the way!

Never be satisfied!

Test! Test! Test!

– Adi Dassler