ETH Zurich
Eduard Imhof  

Curriculum Vitae of Eduard Imhof

Cross Section of Life's Work
Childhood & Youth
Youth & Student Days
Bird's-Eye View maps
School Maps
Other Maps
School Atlases
School Atlases (2)
School Atlases (3)
Expedition Minya Konka
Mountain Reliefs
Atlas of Switzerland
Drawings & Watercolors
Drawings & Watercolors (2)
Drawings & Watercolors (3)
Drawings & Watercolors (4)
Relief of Switzerland
Curriculum Vitae
Exhibitions, Memberships
Memorial Imhof (German only)
Bibliography Imhof: Atlases
Bibliography: Maps
Bibliography: Books
Bibliography: Various



January 25, 1895

Eduard Imhof is born in Schiers/GR. He is the fifth of seven children born to the geographer Dr. Eduard Imhof (1854-1924) and his wife Sophie Marie Egli (1864-1928) who were married in 1882. (J 6)

  Portrait: Eduard Imhof

Citizen of Fahrni/BE and Erlenbach/ZH
Portrait. 1969. 15 x 11 cm.


Move to Zurich. Student at the Cantonal High School ("Gymnasium").


Studies at the engineering school of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH): Imhof's most important teachers are: the geodesist Prof. Dr. h.c. Fritz Baeschlin, the cartographer Prof. Dr. h. c. Fridolin Becker and the geographer Prof. Dr. Jakob Früh.


Diploma as a surveyor. (B 1, B 3, B 8.1, C 2)


Occasional military service at the Swiss border in Southern Ticino and at the St. Gotthard. 1916 lieutenant of artillery.


Collaboration with his father on the club guide "BŁndner Oberland und Rheinwaldgebiet" of the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC). (C 1)


Joining the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC), Uto Section, at times its vice-president. At first member only, then, from 1950-1966, president of the Library Commission of the SAC.


Assistant of Prof. Baeschlin at the Institute of Geodesy of the ETH. Teaching assignment for plan and map drawing and topography as a substitute for Prof. Becker who had fallen ill and died in 1922.


Lecturer for topography and map science at the Faculty of Military Sciences of the ETH.


First prize in the contest to design a new school map for the Canton of St. Gall 1:150 000. The map is published in the Lithographische Anstalt of Hermann Hofer in Zurich ( O 15). In connection with Imhof's work on this map the following publications resulted: "Siedelungsgrundrissformen und ihre Generalisierung im Kartenbilde" (1923/24) and "Die Reliefkarte, Beiträge zur kartographischen Geländedarstellung" (1924). These topics, treated here for the first time, are the foundation of Imhof's scientific teachings.


Eduard Imhof marries Agnes Untersander (1895-1949). They have four children: Agnes Huber-Imhof, 1922-1999; Gret Aeschmann-Imhof, born in 1926; their son Walter Imhof-Wiesendanger, born in 1927 and Doris Locarnini-Imhof, born in 1935.

October 1, 1922

Appointment as auxiliary teacher for plan and map drawing, topography and related fields at the ETH.

July 6./24, 1925

The Swiss Federal Council appoints Eduard Imhof "Associate professor for plan and map drawing, topography and related fields". "His teaching assignment includes plan and map drawing, lectures and practical courses in topography, cartography and surveying ... On top of that he was required to assist with the practical courses in surveying of the professor of topography and geodesy and to head the Collection of Plan and Map Drawing....". Foundation of the Institute of Cartography of the ETH by Eduard Imhof.


The school map of Switzerland 1:500 000 is published in its first edition. (D 1.1)


Efforts to create a new national map of Switzerland and a new law for a national mapping series. Eduard Imhof's main goals were: systematic succession of scales, creation of a map 1:25 000 for all of Switzerland, modern lay-out of the new maps.


Move to Erlenbach on Lake Zurich. (H 48, O 24, H 47, H 52)


Eduard Imhof works on school wall maps and/or school maps for the cantons of: Aargau, Appenzell, Basel-City and -Country, Bern, Glarus, Grisons, Lucerne, Neuchâtel, Schaffhausen, Schwyz, St. Gall, Ticino, Zurich and the Austrian Province of Vorarlberg. These maps sometimes appear in several editions, sometimes in new editions as well.


Expedition to Chinese Tibet to explore and cartograph the 7590 m high Minya Konka (Gonggashan). The report of the expedition is published in 1974 under the title "Die Großen Kalten Berge von Szetschuan".


Eduard Imhof's newly edited Schweizerischer Mittelschulatlas (atlas for Swiss high schools) is published. Preliminary work began in 1927. Editions in German, French and Italian. It is published by the Conference of the Cantonal Ministers of Education. Besides the regular updates, basic revisions appeared in 1948 and 1962. The last edition under Eduard Imhof's guidance is published in 1976.


The Schweizerische Sekundarschulatlas (Atlas for Swiss Primary School), edited by Eduard Imhof, appears. Publisher is the Ministry of Education of the Canton of Zurich, last edition under Eduard Imhof's guidance in 1975.


The club guide "Raetikon" of the Swiss Alpine Club, (SAC) written by Eduard Imhof, is published. (O 17)


Central president of the "Verband Schweizerischer Geographischer Gesellschaften" (Swiss Geographical Society). President of the "Geographisch-Ethnographische Gesellschaft Zurich" (Geographical Society of Zurich).


Head of the exhibition group "Vermessung, Grundbuch und Karte" (Surveying and Mapping) and the group "Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule" of the Swiss National Exhibition 1939 in Zurich. Eduard Imhof prepares the Relief models "Große Windgälle" and "Bietschhorn" 1:2000 and paints the "Walenseekarte 1:10.000", all exhibited there for the first time. (O 16)


Prinz-Ludwig Medal in silver of the Geographical Society in Munich.


Occasional military service at the Swiss border as an artillery officer, at the end in the rank of a major, in the staffs Headquaters 9. Division and 5./3. A.K.(Army Corps), at times in the army staff.


Silver medal of the Société Royale Belge de Géographie.

April 29, 1949

Bestowal of honorary degree as Doctor phil. II honoris causa by the University of Zurich: "In honor of his work as a cartographer, especially for the relief-representation of maps. Guided in his work by the exact observation of nature, his technical skills and his artistic sense, Imhof created maps wich were not only admired by scientists but also became for the natural landscape and geography as a science".


Editing of the "Atlas zur Geschichte des Kantons Zürich", (Historical atlas Zurich) together with Prof. Dr. Paul Kläui

April 1, 1950

Appointment as full professor (ad personam) for plan and map drawing, topography and cartography at the ETH Zurich. (Election December 1949).


The book "Gelände und Karte" is published. Further editions 1958 and 1968, French edition "Terrain et Carte" 1951. English editions only duplicated as manuscripts.


Sojourn in Ankara as adviser to the Survey of Turkey - Harita Genel Müdürlügü and lecturer of cartography. (O 22)


Corresponding member of the German Geodetic Commission at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities.


Eduard Imhof is married to Viola May. Travels in Anatolia and ascent of Mount Ararat, 5156 m

1957 & 1960

I and II International Course for Cartography at the Institute of Cartography of the ETH. These courses are of the first postgraduate courses ever held at the ETH.


Participation in the Second International Cartographic Conference (Rand McNally Conference) in Evanston near Chicago. Preparations for the founding of an international cartographic association.


First president of the International Cartographic Association / Association Cartographique Internationale.


Editor of the International Yearbook of Cartography. Begin of preliminary work in 1958.


Mandate of the Swiss Federal Council to produce the Atlas of Switzerland (Atlas der Schweiz). Appointment to the post of president of the editorial committee and to editor-in-chief. Preliminary work for this atlas had already started in 1939. The atlas is published in installments between 1965 and 1978. It comprises 96 plates with 440 maps, 136 diagrams and 192 pages of comments in German, French and Italian. Sven Hedin gold medal of the Svenska Sällskapet för Antropologi och Geografi.


David Livingstone gold medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.


Retirement from academic teaching after 46 years of service.
The textbook "Kartographische Geländedarstellung" appears. The English translation under the title "Cartographic Relief Presentation" is published in 1982.


Patron's Medal in gold of the Royal Geographical Society of London.


Member of the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina (German academy Leopoldina)


Corresponding member from abroad of the Oesterreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, math. nat. Klasse. Martin Behaim Medal in gold of the Fränkische Geographische Gesellschaft Erlangen (Germany).


Alexander von Humboldt Medal in gold of the Gesellschaft für Erdkunde in Berlin.


The textbook "Thematische Kartographie" appears. As a novelty treatment of the subjects according to graphical structures. Imhof had been lecturing on "thematic maps" since about 1950.


The relief painting for a new Map of Switzerland 1:200 000 is composed as a multicolored aquarelle on four sheets. The map appears in 1982 as a one-sheet print 1:300 000 under the title "Relief der Schweiz, ein Kartengemälde".


Carl Mannerfelt Medal of the International Cartographic Association.

December 4, 1981

Eduard Imhof is awarded honorary citizenship by the town assemby of Erlenbach ZH.


Swiss Television DRS makes a movie about Eduard Imhof. Editor: Gertrud Furrer.

January 30, 1986

On the occasion of his jublilee exhibition in Solothurn Eduard Imhof lectures for the last time on his pictures and maps. Since about 1920 he had been able to familiarize through his many lectures not only experts but also the general public in Switzerland and abroad with cartographic questions, and besides that he had publicly reported about his journeys. (O 6)

April 27, 1986

Eduard Imhof dies after a short illness at Erlenbach.

May 8, 1986

Eduard Imhof is posthumously awarded the Medal of Merit of the Fachhochschule Karlsruhe (Germany) which "gratefully acknowledges his untiring personal efforts in the promotion of the interests of the Fachhochschule and its students".


Eduard Imhof had many students. Out of the great number of professors of engineering who had attended Imhof's lectures twelve became professors of cartography. And between about 1931 and 1970 Eduard Imhof taught cartographers the art of designing relief maps for school maps and atlases at his workshop at Erlenbach.